The New Brunswick government must look for alternatives to heavy industry — particularly the controversial shale gas industry — for its future economic development, according to a community group.
Residents of Taymouth, near Fredericton, have organized a series of speakers to talk discuss other industries that could spark economic growth.
About 30 people attended the first of five meetings on Wednesday night.
Many in Taymouth are opposed to shale gas development, saying it's time the New Brunswick government looked beyond the controversial industry for economic growth.
Peter DeMarsh, the chairperson of the Taymouth Community Association, said the provincial government is showing its desperation by focusing on shale gas as the main hope for the future.
"Grasping at shale gas as the miracle that's going to save us is beyond belief," said DeMarsh.
"There are a lot of things of genuine interest and real promise that are going on here and elsewhere."
The province should look at industries that protect the environment, according to the committee's first speaker.
Hassan Arif, a doctoral student at the University of New Brunswick, who has studied sustainable development, said there are other sectors that could boost the economy, aside from the shale gas industry.
"Definitely it would be based on our natural resources and the sense of our environment both in attracting tourism and attracting people who want to live here," said Arif.
Over the next two months, speakers at the series will include politicians, economists, environmentalists and union organizers.
Mary Delavalette, an organizer with the series, said she hopes the meetings will spark interest with people.
"We want to offer New Brunswickers a path that will leave us with clean air, clean water and not this boom-and-bust industries that they want to bring in," she said.