LARK HARBOUR — While the majority of people in Lark Harbour and the surrounding area appear to be anti-fracking, it’s stringent regulations from the provincial government that are hearing a rallying cry.
A town hall meeting was held Monday evening in the small south shore Bay of Islands community where the controversial hydraulic fracturing drilling technique is being proposed in the nearby town of Little Port.
The meeting was spearheaded by Lorraine Humber, a retired nurse, who has spoken out against “fracking” mainly because of the perceived environmental risks associated with the gas-extraction method.
Although against allowing Shoal Point Energy to conduct this type of drilling on the south shore, Humber says she remains open-minded about gathering and presenting all pertinent information. Nothing has changed her stance against it though.
“Our environment is a very important part of what we have to leave to our children and grandchildren,” she said. “I am starting to lean to the other side of the fence now, where I am worrying about them and what kind of legacy we are going to leave to them.”
However, that is not the focus of a local concerned citizens group that has formed. Humber said people of the south shore need to speak up about their concerns and lobby the representatives of the provincial government to take action.
Similar groups are quite vocal in the Port au Port area and along the Northern Peninsula, where fracking is being proposed, and Humber says it is time they did the same.
“There are a lot of people who can state they are totally against it, but we have a way now to know where we should take it,” she said. “We are opting to look for proper legislations into what can actually be done by an oil company, and see to it that all these rules and regulations are in place.”
Lark Harbour Mayor John Parsons also attended the meeting. The council itself has not taken a stand for or against fracking, but has helped organize meetings and get information to its residents.
Parsons said he doubts the council will make a stand, but it does support lobbying the provincial government for regulations. He brought the issue before the Great Humber Joint Council, and the region’s municipal representatives passed a motion to ask the province to take a stance on the technique.
With no authority to influence such legislation, said the mayor, he feels the town will continue encouraging its people to make informed decisions. He does support the concerned citizens group in its attempt to lobby the province to implement legislation.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Eddie Joyce, the Liberal MHA for the Bay of Islands, also attended the meeting. He passed along information he has researched about fracking, but he said it is hard to do a lot when there is no legislation governing it.
The Liberals introduced a private members motion in March for the province to bring in such regulations, but it was voted down. Joyce said it is time the provincial government stopped using the inadequate federal regulations as a scapegoat, and implement its own.
“Fracking has never happened in this province before, and there are no regulations governing it at all,” he said. “It is time for that to change.”
He is also writing to the provincial ministers of Natural Resources, Derrick Dalley, and Environment and Conservation, Joan Shea, to come to Lark Harbour to meet with the people.