BOYLSTON: Some residents aren’t happy with council’s decision to ask the province to revisit its ban on hydraulic fracturing.

On February 21, the Boylston Community Centre hosted a town hall style meeting on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Organizers called the meeting in response to council for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough asking the province to allow for exploratory drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

During the meeting residents questioned councillor Neil DeCoff about the decision and council’s request for support from neighbouring municipalities. In a motion passed in January, council voted to write the premier and all MLAs about the economic potential for onshore hydrocarbon development, urging the province to create regulations and legislation that remove the ban on fracking and design a pilot project to determine whether the resource can be safely developed.

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A release from one of the attendees of the public meeting, Alexander Bridge, stated around 50 people came out to the meeting to hear from DeCoff.

“A large number of the residents in the audience expressed their concern over the council’s lack of including any public participation in the process, seeing once again council appeared not to be as transparent as it would like citizens to believe,” stated the release. “Councillor DeCoff admitted there had not been any public input solicited, or discussion in reaching the decision to ask the provincial government to lift the fracking ban. He went on to explain that if the provincial government lifted the ban, then the public discussion would begin before going forward with any fracking test wells.”

The release also stated three requests came out of the meeting for DeCoff to share with council. Those requests included sharing concerns about the MODG’s letter to the province, that more town hall meetings be held with all councillors, and that the municipality obtain unbiased geologic and scientific research on fracking before going any further and provide that information to constituents.

George Nahrebecky was one of the organizers of the meeting. He said there are a large number of residents concerned about council’s position, noting he asked to meet with DeCoff.

“The main point was that council was making very important decisions, such as a request to lift the ban on fracking, with absolutely no research, apparently, and no heads up, no consultation with the public, whatsoever,” said Nahrebecky. “It came out of nowhere.”

After making their case to DeCoff, Nahrebecky said they would love to meet with all of council to discuss their issues and get some answers. He said the request is still on the way.

“[DeCoff] was very sincere about working with us and meeting with us again in the future and bringing our concerns to council,” said Nahrebecky.

DeCoff said he felt the meeting went well, noting he spoke as a councillor and not on behalf of council.

“I simply spoke [about] where I came from on the motion and people asked questions and people gave their thoughts about their feelings towards the issue,” he said. “I think everything went about as well as can be expected.”

When asked for his take on the matter, DeCoff said it was a motion to ask the province to revisit the ban they put on hydraulic fracturing.

“We are part of the province and I said to the group if the economy in the province improves by such industry or business, it helps municipalities as well,” he said. “The other part about it, indirectly, we have a major project that is on the queue with Goldboro LNG. If this could be done in a safe and strict manner environmental and whatever, that may help the cause of this project in Goldboro.”

DeCoff said the majority of attendees were against hydraulic fracturing, noting he got the sense people were upset they weren’t consulted by municipal council.

“It was a very respectful and well run meeting,” he said. “I was pleased with the reception they gave me and I just hope they were also pleased with the honesty I spoke back to them.”