On Tuesday, March 16, the City Council in Fernie sponsored a “Town Hall” Meeting to discuss coalbed methane. This was in response to a large area of rights that the province had posted for auction.
The city invited a panel: Karen Campbell (West Coast Environmental Law), Gwen Lachelt (Colorado’s Oil and Gas Accountability Project), Derek Doyle (Oil & Gas Commission) and Derek Brown (Energy & Mines).
On Wednesday, Fernie Council passed, unanimously, the following resolution:
Be it resolved that the government of British Columbia defer any auction of Coalbed methane tenures for the Crowsnest Coalfield until completion of a comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of large-scale gas exploration and production on the environment, economy and human community of the Elk Valley.
Mayor Randal Macnair said he felt that it is the government, not industry which is driving this process. He sees the need to have some sort of provincial network.
Fernie now joins other towns and regional districts in British Columbia where there is growing awareness of the risks and impacts of coalbed methane development – sufficient to spur similar calls for a suspension of further activity, or expressions of concern.
The Comox-Strathcona Regional District brought forward a resolution calling for a halt, that was passed at the Union of BC Municipalities Convention in 2003.