Residents of Inverness County in Cape Breton spoke out overwhelmingly in favour of a bylaw that will ban hydraulic fracturing in the county at a public meeting on Monday night.

About 50 people turned out for the meeting, held by the council in the Municipality of the County of Inverness.

Hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — is a process used in the oil and gas industry that involves forcing water and other chemicals under high pressure into the ground to extract oil or gas.

The community has been concerned about fracking since Ontario-based PetroWorth Resources Inc. announced it wanted to drill exploratory wells near Lake Ainslie. PetroWorth has said it has no immediate plans to use fracking.

People at the public meeting thanked the council for drafting a bylaw that will ban fracking.

"I just want to applaud everyone here, who's here tonight, for caring about this issue," said Anne Levesque, a member of the Council of Canadians, which fights for various environmental and social causes.

Most people at the meeting said they don't want to risk the county's pristine beauty or drinking water by allowing fracking.

Candy Mudge, of Glencoe Mills, said banning fracking is about protecting Cape Breton's beauty and looking for other ways to create jobs.

Mudge is originally from Wood River in Illinois, a town that once had a large oil refinery.

Fine of $10,000 a day against violators

"We know our young people are moving away and we want to address that and we want to solve that problem, but we also want it to be somewhere that they want to come back to," she told residents gathered at the meeting.

"Where I'm from and where many people in this room are from, we don't want to go back, we go back maybe to visit family, but it's a crying shame what we go back to."

The bylaw would forbid any type of fracking in the Municipality of the County of Inverness and would levy fines of $10,000 a day against violators.

Some residents want the county to go even further and ban any type of oil or gas exploration.

Duart MacAulay, the warden of the Municipality of the County of Inverness, said the debate over a wider ban is for another time.

For now, he's confident the community's stance against fracking is the right one.

"We feel right now our people want something in place that will assure them that fracking will not be and their drinking water will not be in jeopardy because of hydraulic fracking," said MacAulay.

There's no fracking allowed right now in Nova Scotia while the province reviews the practice

Even if that moratorium is lifted, MacAulay said he's confident the new bylaw will keep fracking out of Inverness County. The bylaw to ban fracking has passed its first reading in Inverness County council and will go through its second reading in March.