On Monday, September 24, ForestEthics Advocacy hosted a community dialogue session in Victoria, British Columbia to discuss plans to expand natural gas development in British Columbia. The event brought together community members who live on the front lines of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas—including a university professor in environmental studies, a First Nations member from Skidegate, Gwaii Hanaas and a policy analyst. In all, 75 attendees gathered to share stories and discuss detailed information on the extraction process of natural gas and what it would mean to this particular part of Canada. It proved to be quite shocking.
It was gut wrenching to listen to Irene Merrick from Pouce Coupe explain what life is like when you have a huge gas company (Encana, in her case) exploiting your backyard and changing its landscape in front of your very eyes. Her photos drew gasps from the audience as pictures revealed the unsightly labyrinth of roads, seismic lines, clear cuts and noxious gas flares around her home.
An environmental studies teacher brought his 13 students from an hour away to expose them to the issues of water usage that arise from fracturing for natural gas.
“I think we are too polite about things that go on in this county”, one audience member said during the Q & A session, bringing an applause of agreement in the room. It was clear that audience members were tired of finding out about industrial developments after the fact, and without proper community engagement.
Bob Simpson, Independent MLA representing Cariboo North, gave a strong closing statement, urging the community to pay attention and be present to what is happening on this land right now.
What happened on Monday night was a connection of leaders in the community and across British Columbia coming together to connect with the public. There, they shared insights and first-hand experiences with resource extraction expanding in our province.
Unless citizens educate themselves and use their voices to persuade leadership in the right direction, we will continue to see business as usual for energy development across Canada.
We hope that the knowledge gained by attendees will result in action to stop fracking in the extremely important Sacred Headwaters region. Right now, you can ask Premier Clark and the Honourable Rich Coleman to ban Shell from fracking for coalbed methane there—it’s paradise in peril.
ForestEthics Advocacy would like to extend a sincere thank you to our speakers, Ben Parfitt, James Cowpar, Irene Merrick, Kara Shaw and Bob Simpson for joining us and providing the public with access to critical information about natural gas development in our precious and unique province.