Controversial industrial development initiatives such as hydraulic fracturing, the west-east pipeline from Alberta to Saint John and the Alward government's new Crown forest policy have found a friend in a new group called Resource Wise NB.

The group wants the province to capitalize on its natural resources to generate jobs and wipe out the provincial deficit, which is projected to be $391 million in 2014-15.


Brian Cheney is the chairman of the newly formed Resource Wise NB group. (CBC)

Brian Cheney is the chairman of the group, which held its inaugural meeting Monday evening in Boiestown.

"One of the biggest problems we've identified is the lack of education that people have about all of our resources, whether it be oil, gas, mining or forestry," said Cheney.

Cheney believes proposed development such as extracting shale gas through hydraulic fracturing get a disproportionate amount of criticism.

"We believe that there is a large proportion of New Brunswickers who support the responsible development of our natural resources," he said.

Cheney says the group is not funded by industry. The group's board of directors is to include three representatives of the aboriginal community, six members representing the public, and six representatives of resource industries.

Barb Carson attended Monday's meeting to see what the group had to say.

"When they can prove to me they can do it safely, then I'll agree," said Carson.

Resource Wise NB plans to hold other public meetings across the province in the coming months.