No fracking may be happening in the N.W.T.'s Beaufort-Delta region, but residents there are still concerned about it.
An all-out ban on hydraulic fracturing in the territory was one of the ideas discussed Thursday night during the first of nine planned public meetings being held by the N.W.T. government to talk about proposed rules for the controversial practice, which is used to unlock trapped underground oil or natural gas.
'We are not prepared to really decide what is good for fracking.' - Fort McPherson Chief William Koe
Just over 30 people attended the session in Inuvik, including residents from surrounding communities, many of whom expressed concern and uncertainty about fracking.
"I think we are all concerned about poisoning where we live," said Inuvik resident Sheila O'Kane.
Duane Smith, the chair of the Inuvik Community Corporation, said he fears people in his region won't be immune to the effects of fracking conducted elsewhere near the Mackenzie River.
"I think this is an issue in the Inuvialuit settlement area because we are downriver from all of these chemicals that would be used in fracking," he said.
Smith said he's also worried that projects up the river would consume too much water — further reducing levels in a river that's used for drinking water, fishing and river transportation.
William Koe, the Chief of Fort McPherson, said the government's consultation process — 90 days of consultation, with the regulations expected to be put in place by this fall — feels rushed.
"We are not prepared to really decide what is good for fracking," he said, adding that fracking should be a major issue during this fall's territorial election.
Floyd Roland, the mayor of Inuvik, said the public meetings are not the most effective means for seeking a ban on fracking, because the meetings are meant for discussion on improving the N.W.T.'s regulations, not getting rid of fracking.
"I am hoping that the government and the regulator, which is the government, would come up with an enhanced level that takes into the concerns of the people of the N.W.T. of what is acceptable and not acceptable," he said.
The next public meeting will take place in Fort Good Hope on Monday.