Nova Scotia

Inverness County mulls fracking ban

Some Inverness County residents want to ban fracking in the area after an oil-and-gas company announced plans to drill exploratory wells near Lake Ainslie.

Cape Breton community proposes bylaw prohibiting controversial practice

Inverness County is considering banning fracking after an oil-and-gas company announced plans to drill exploratory wells near Lake Ainslie.

PetroWorth Resources, a Toronto-based company, says it doesn't plan to use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The process is currently not allowed in Nova Scotia while the provincial government reviews it. It won't announce its decision before the summer of 2014.

Fracking uses high-pressure water and chemicals to access gas or oil deposits. Opponents believe the process is dangerous.

Public hearings

Brian Peters, a member of the Margaree Environmental Association, was one of the locals opposed to any possible fracking. The municipality responded with a proposed ban on the extraction process.

It's holding public hearings on the bylaw.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction," Peters said.

His group mounted a court challenge to the proposed drilling. He said he is thrilled the county is considering an anti-fracking bylaw. "[It's] really gratifying that Inverness County is taking the lead on this," said Peters.

Dwayne MacDonald, deputy warden for the county, said the bylaw is not set in stone. He's against fracking, but worried that the wording of the bylaw might prevent any type of oil-and-gas exploration.

MacDonald said the county needs to find a middle ground between protecting the area from fracking, if it is dangerous, and promoting development.

Some support development

He said many in the county support oil-and-gas development.

"I'm hearing people come to me, people who work in the oil industry, people who have worked in the oil industry, who have family members working out west, who say, 'Why would we stop development that would bring them home?'" he said.

"You know, they're speaking, they're just not speaking as loudly. They don't have signs on the side of the road, they're not holding public meetings."

The bylaw has passed its first reading. Inverness County Council says it wants to hear from people on both sides of the issue before it goes any further.

Public hearings are scheduled for Monday afternoon in St. Joseph du Moine, Monday evening in Inverness and Tuesday evening in Port Hastings.