Alberta energy minister responds to concerns over urban drilling

LETHBRIDGE- Alberta’s energy minister is responding to concerns from Lethbridge residents over potential oil and gas development on the city’s west side.

More than 8,000 people have signed a petition organized by a group dubbed No Drilling Lethbridge, calling on the provincial government to introduce legislation to ban urban drilling within city limits.

Volunteer Sheila Rogers says the petition’s numbers are growing quickly.

“They’re going door to door making sure people know about this, because we’ve discovered that quite a few people are unaware of Goldenkey Oil’s proposal to drill three exploratory wells on the west side,” she explains.

The group’s efforts seem to have garnered attention from Alberta’s energy minister.

Diana McQueen wrote a letter in Saturday’s edition of the Lethbridge Herald titled “Some Facts About Energy Development.”

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Mcqueen writes, “Development in urban areas is not new in Alberta, it’s happening in communities like Medicine Hat, Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.”

She goes on to state, “It is already happening in Lethbridge, where there are currently 19 producing wells within city boundaries.”

According to city officials, the majority of those wells are gas and have been located in the southwest and river valley since the 1980’s.

Rogers says the letter doesn’t go far enough to address resident’s concerns.

“Are they oil wells or gas wells? Have they been fracked? What’s the depth of these wells? We have a lot of questions for her and we’d like Diana McQueen to come to Lethbridge and answer our questions,” she says.

The minister’s letter also says Alberta’s energy regulations are among the strongest in the world and that she is confident they are putting Albertan’s first.

However, the vice president of Lethbridge and District Association of Realtors, Jason Schriner, disagrees and has taken a firm stance against the proposed project.

“It’s too difficult to say if it would effect business or property values, but it certaintly effects the municipal plans. We can’t grow as we intended to grow for future real estate development if this plan goes ahead,” he adds.

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McQueen adds in her letter that she expects a lot of residents concerns to be addressed at the community issues meeting February 24th.

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