City council information session on urban drilling draws large crowd

February 24, 201411:33 pm

LETHBRIDGE – After months of inquiries and controversy, Lethbridge residents were given answers to some of their questions surrounding oil and gas development within municipal limits.

Lethbridge City Council hosted a Community Issues Committee at the Yates Memorial Theatre Monday night with a number of expert panelists.

The meeting comes after months of public outcry over Calgary-based GoldenKey Oil’s potential plans to drill three exploratory wells on the west side.

Mayor Chris Spearman says while council is opposed to the proposed project, the evening was about learning more on urban drilling in general.

“Right now it’s GoldenKey Oil but it might be somebody else next time,” he says.

Among the panelists at the meeting was a representative with the Alberta Energy Regulator, the sole agency that either approves or denies such energy projects in Alberta.

A spokesperson with the AER, Ryan Bartlett, says the organization looks at every aspect of public safety when considering at a proposal.

“We make sure if any approval is done it’s only if the resource can be developed in a way that will protect the environment, public and resource itself,” he adds.

Speaking to drilling processes, a professor of geophysics from the University of Alberta told the large crowd it’s hard to analyze the risks.

“There have been hydraulic fracturing going on for 60 to 70 years and usually it’s not that much of a problem. The issues have become now the usage of the water, could you induced seismicity, but there’s a lot we still don’t know and need to study.” Dr. Doug Schmitt explains.

GoldenKey oil is yet to officially submit an application to the AER.

Spearman says council has invited the company to meet with them, and will likely use the information they garnered at the meeting with plans moving forward.

“This is an issue that we’ve already heard about twice in Calgary…so now the third incident is happening in Lethbridge and it’s an issue that’s not going away,” he adds.