Peace Country oilsands emissions hearing begins today

A hearing aimed at finding out if emissions from oilsands projects in northwest Alberta are making neighbouring property owners sick begins this morning in Peace River.

Families abandoned homes near heavy oil facility in northwest Alberta

Mike Labrecque wears a gas mask when he visits his Peace Country property, which he moved from two years ago. (CBC)

A  hearing aimed at finding out if emissions from oilsands projects in northwest Alberta are making neighbouring property owners sick begins this morning in Peace River.

The Alberta Energy Regulator is holding the 10-day hearing into the controversial bitumen extraction process called Cold Heavy Oil with Sand (CHOPS).

Michel Labrecque, who will testify on Friday, said he's suffered severe headaches, breathing and vision problems while living on his property near the wells.

But he said when he tried to get help from a doctor, the doctor told him to find a lawyer instead.

He basically told me there's nothing he could do for me," Labrecque said. "He told me to go find myself a lawyer.  He said, 'You don't need a doctor, you need a lawyer.'"

Labrecque said he doesn't blame doctors for not wanting to become involved.

"It would be a lot of trouble for them," he said. "I don't think they have time to get involved with cases like that where they would have to be to court.

"I think they just shy away from the whole thing."

Labrecque, launched a lawsuit and moved away from his property and the wells.