Here’s an interesting case of politicians being in your corner – but you’re still down for the count because a higher political body has final say.
The matter at heart – fracking – is hugely controversial in most areas and growing more so by degrees. Gas and oil exploration companies in Nova Scotia have mapped out potential areas for hydraulic fracturing, much to the chagrin of residents who have grave concerns about the effects on the water table. People in northern parts of the province are on pins and needles over the possibility.
In what would seem a first, Inverness County council is considering passing a bylaw banning the process in that area. Although the Toronto-based company planning to drill an exploratory well on the edge of Lake Ainslie says it is not considering fracking, people are still nervous. Protests against the development have been loud and widespread.
So what, says the province, of the bylaw talks. The municipality has no jurisdiction in such matters, points out John MacDonell, minister of Service Nova Scotia. Mineral rights fall within the province’s court of authority. Needless to say, the royalties also bring a smile.
It’s hard to fathom that Inverness council would not be aware of the jurisdictional issue. But, good for members to at least go ahead and indicate their moral support.
Other practical reasons underlie why the local political body will have strong feelings about such an issue – they live in the same area. The bulk of provincial politicians do not.
This initiative by the council in Inverness, should it pass, might well amount to a stillborn piece of legislation. At the same time, outside the bounds of convention as it is, such a show of will from the local government does add to the overall expression of opposition. It gives it a more organized, all-inclusive identity.
A provincial government, in making any future decision on development, we hope, would respect any unified show of determination.