As a series of public meetings on shale gas development in New Brunswick wraps up, the chair is defending his decision to host them in small communities.
Louis LaPierre is leading the public sessions for the provincial government and said it makes sense to hold the sessions in small communities since they would be the most vulnerable if shale gas development were to proceed.
"The people in the smaller places are the ones that are going to be directly impacted by either traffic, or if there was any problems with water pollution," he said.
No sessions were held in Moncton, Fredericton or Saint John.
"Major centres have traffic on an ongoing basis, they do have water systems, they do have waste management systems so they're less impacted," said LaPierre.
LaPierre said there is still time for people to send in their thoughts on shale gas development and the proposed regulations.
The sessions have been a worthwhile experience, said LaPierre, who is also professor emeritus of biology at the University of Moncton.
He said attendance at all of the meetings, except for the northwestern town of Grand Falls, has been good.
The provincial government was looking to LaPierre’s tour to discuss the proposed regulations.
However, many participants have been unwilling to comment on the rules, and instead used the hearings as an opportunity to explain why they don't want shale gas development or hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick.
LaPierre said many of the concerns are broader than the provincial government’s regulations.
"In a way people have come forward with their own issues and concerns, but when you look at the concerns that they're bringing forward, they do fit into the government regulations that were put forward," he said.
"I can just about slot all of the comments I heard into the regulations so I think when all is finished I think we'll have some very interesting comments on a majority, if not all, of the regulations," he said.
LaPierre said he expects to submit his report to government by the fall.
The final meeting is July 4 in Norton, N.B.