Fort Good Hope questions value of fracking regulations meeting
Crowd of 50 asks for more information, more time for discussion on proposed rules
"Shameful," and "a practical joke" were some of the words used to describe a community consultation in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., on proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing Monday night.
About 50 people came out to meet a representative for the territorial government who was in town to present the proposed regulations but many at the meeting felt it was put together too quickly and poorly organized.
With no decision makers in attendance — no MLAs or ministers — many felt the government wasn't taking the consultations seriously.
"We don't want to shoot the messenger," said Joe Grandjambe, addressing director of petroleum resources Menzie McEachern.
"Bring the message back to your politicians. We want to have a good discussion. We're not altogether against development."
McEachern stated more than once that he didn't have political decision-making power, but that he would relay the long list of messages and concerns from the meeting to cabinet.
"What I'm hearing is a desire for hydraulic fracturing education," he said. "This is a meeting about regulations."
McEachern apologized for not having arranged for sound equipment. A sound system was set up for the last hour of the nearly four-hour session.
"You don't even have the courtesy to come in and say, 'Hey, do we have a sound man? Do we have someone who can do recordings?" said Ron Pierrot, a former chief of Fort Good Hope.
"We have a local radio station: you can air it publicly over the radio and have everyone in the community listen in."
'Things are being rushed'
Edwin Erutse, president of Fort Good Hope's Yamoga Land Corporation, said the corporation needs time to do technical and legal reviews of the government's proposed regulations, and said MLAs are rushing to get the regulations through before the upcoming election.
"One session is not going to do it for us to provide us with some comfort," he said.
Many said they hope the government will come back for more sessions before the draft regulations become law.
"I was thinking of sending smoke signals to Yellowknife," said Isadore Manuel, when it was his turn to speak.
"We are not ready. Things are being rushed."
Community members also asked about how to protect water, who is in control of contracts with local workers, the cumulative impacts of fracking multiple wells at a time, and the need to extend the 90-day window for public engagement.
McEachern said the public engagement process can be extended if 90 days is not enough time.
Public meetings on the draft fracking regulations will be held in Norman Wells and Tulita on Wednesday.
Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya had planned to attend all three meetings, but was ill.
with files from Peter Sheldon