Hydraulic fracturing protesters gathered in front of Antigonish Town Hall on Monday night prior to the meeting of Antigonish Town Council.

ANTIGONISH: Town council voted unanimously not to support a motion to have the provincial government overturn its ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Council made its decision during a regular monthly meeting of Antigonish Town Council on March 19. There was a full house at the meeting as several people attended the proceedings following an anti-fracking rally outside Town Hall prior to the council meeting.

“We’re happy to see engagement in any issue that comes along and I knew that fracking would be very controversial and I’m happy to see so many people out,” said Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher.

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While the vote itself was unanimous, some on council called for more information.

“It’s important to keep an open mind,” said Boucher. “We have to speak to industry. We have to speak to the science field. We also have to speak to our First Nations [residents] and get their input as well.”

Council also voted to table a motion by William Cormier which would ask the province to add provisions into future fracking regulations that would allow municipalities to veto fracking. Members voted to table the Cormier’s motion until more information is received.

Photos by Matt Draper
There was a large crowd attending Monday night’s meeting of Antigonish Town Council.

Last month, council members received correspondence sent from the Municipality of the District of Guysborough asking for support of a motion passed by its council which stated, “that the Council of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough write the Premier of Nova Scotia, with copies to all members of the Legislature, indicating that in light of the recent release of the Nova Scotia Onshore Petroleum Atlas Project confirming the economic potential for onshore hydrocarbon development, that we strongly urge the province to create regulations and legislation that remove the ban on fracking in Nova Scotia and design a program that provides strict guidelines and parameters under which a pilot project can be initiated to determine whether this resource can be safely developed for the benefit of all Nova Scotians.”

Antigonish CAO Geoff MacLellan said town council looked at the letter last month but with mayor Laurie Boucher and councillor Donnie MacInnis not available, members deferred the matter to Monday night’s council meeting.

Boucher said she was not surprised to see the turn-out for the meeting, noting the area has a large group of citizens who are passionate about the environment.

Patrick Yancey, who helped organize the rally, said he was pleased with council’s unanimous decision, adding it sends a message to industry groups who are pushing for fracking.

“We think that message is that Nova Scotians are still firmly against [hydraulic fracturing] as we were two years ago,” he said.

While Yancey said he feels it is fine if council seeks information on both sides of the issue, he would rather see town resources looking at renewable energy sources “and not revisiting debates that have already been thoroughly debated.”