Not everyone on board as Guysborough calls for end to Nova Scotia's fracking ban

Some residents of Guysborough County are speaking out against the municipality's push to bring back fracking to Nova Scotia.

County's council penned letter to province earlier this month asking it to lift fracking ban

A flare at Saint John's Canaport LNG terminal. (CBC)

Some residents of Guysborough County are speaking out against the municipality's push to bring fracking back to Nova Scotia.

"It's absolutely crazy," said Alexander Bridge, who moved to the area two years ago. "There are a lot of concerned citizens who are saying enough is enough."

At a meeting earlier this month, Guysborough County council decided to write to the Liberal government, calling for the province to lift its ban on fracking and asking it to allow some exploratory drilling.

Bridge said he's unhappy that the municipality took a stand on fracking without first consulting its residents. He said he's worried about the possible environmental impact of the process.

"I mean, this is like [President Donald] Trump bringing back coal mining in the U.S.," he said.

'Let's try one well'

The warden of Guysborough said he believes the process poses few problems and could provide significant economic benefits for his region. Guysborough County is home to the municipally owned Goldboro Industrial Park, ​the land-base for the Sable Offshore Energy Project.

"People are so afraid of this — for the life of me, I don't understand," said Warden Vernon Pitts. "Let's try one well and see how it goes before we close the door outright on it."

Hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas was banned in Nova Scotia in 2014.

The request from Guysborough County comes just a few weeks after an analysis from the Energy Department found that onshore natural gas resources in the province could be worth between $20 billion and $60 billion. Most of it is in shale gas, which would require hydraulic fracturing — commonly known as fracking — to recover.

Guysborough County is home to the municipally owned Goldboro Industrial Park.

The report prompted responses from Premier Stephen McNeil and Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan, who both indicated that the ban on fracking would remain.

When CBC contacted the Energy Department this week, a spokesperson confirmed the government's position has not changed. "Nova Scotians have made it clear they are not ready to support the use of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in shale," said JoAnn Alberstat.

Another Guysborough resident, Susanne Roy, also questioned the municipality's support of "such a destructive, environmentally questionable practice." 

But her local councillor, Miles MacDonald, defended the county's request in an email, saying the motion calls for a pilot project with strict guidelines so the province can "determine if this resource can be safely developed."

Guysborough County hasn't yet received a formal reply from the province, Pitt said.

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca