When Will PC Government Listen to Albertans and Stop Allowing Risky Drilling in Urban Areas?


Question Period: March 17, 2014

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Mr. Bilous: Mr. Speaker, for years Albertans have watched this PC government bend over backwards to help industry make huge profits at the expense of the environment and community safety. Today 11,000 citizens of Lethbridge, just to name one city, delivered a petition calling on this government to help protect their homes, schools, playgrounds from harmful drilling. To the Minister of Municipal Affairs: when will you listen to the people of Alberta and their municipal leaders and stop allowing risky drilling in urban areas?

Mrs. McQueen: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member for the question. I want to say that we’ve been listening very, very carefully to our two MLAs from the area, to the mayor of the community as well, making sure that the environmental concerns from their communities are able to be addressed with me. I’ve talked to the mayor myself. We’re going to meet. We’re also looking at an urban drilling policy. We’re working on that piece right now. What is important for me is the safety of Albertans, all Albertans.

Mr. Bilous: Mr. Speaker, given that there are still no clear rules on drilling in urban areas and given that this PC government has been promising an urban drilling strategy since 2012, when Calgary faced the same threat that Lethbridge does today, to the Minister of Energy: when will we finally get to see this policy, and why has it taken so long? 

Mrs. McQueen: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, we do have policies about drilling in this province, whether they be for urban or rural, and I have made a commitment to look at the policies, review the policies, and bring forward different stakeholders, municipalities and other stakeholders, so that we can look at those policies, first of all, so that everyone is aware what policies we do have in place. Whether we live in rural Alberta or we live in urban Alberta, it’s important for all of us to have policies for safe drilling.

Mr. Bilous: Tick-tock, tick-tock, Minister. Mr. Speaker, given that without this policy the government and regulators continue to make up rules on the fly in the backroom and given the strong opposition from Albertans, including in Lethbridge the mayor and city council, the chamber of commerce, and both school boards, to the Minister of Municipal Affairs: will the minister commit that changes to the Municipal Government Act will include a prohibition on drilling in urban areas, and if not, why not?

Mrs. McQueen: Well, again thank you for the question. What’s important to note, Mr. Speaker, in this particular case is that there has been no application put forward to the Alberta Energy Regulator, so the citizens are having the opportunity to bring their concerns first and foremost to their two outstanding MLAs – the mayor is able to talk with myself as well – and to be able to talk about those. But, quite frankly, there is no application before the regulator at this point.