City Council learned of the community concerns about drilling in West Lethbridge via email and social media over the weekend and officially from city administration late this morning. Application was filed by Tamarack Acquisitions through Alberta Energy and City of Lethbridge administration on October 26,2018, but notice of this filing was not passed on to City Council. A change in administrative process will be put in place for future applications.
In 2012 and 2013, City Council made its position clear on the issue of urban drilling through a formal resolution at City Council, which stated opposition to oil and gas drilling and production within city limits. Had we been notified, we would have had two weeks to file a concern. City Council will be filing a letter to any and all urban drilling in the City of Lethbridge in the future.
At every opportunity, the City has notified the provincial regulator and company representatives that we are opposed to any new oil and gas drilling within city limits. We believe now, as we did then, that such activity would effectively sterilize developable urban land and burden the City with additional costs by creating the need for setbacks to separate wells and underground pipelines from future neighbourhoods.
Although Council has taken this formal, public stance, we recognize that, as a municipality, we have no legal authority to stand in the way of the Alberta Energy Regulator ultimately grants approval to this or any other company to drill within our city limits.
As a Council, we emphasize that we are not opposed to oil and gas exploration, generally. Our specific concern is about the negative impacts for urban municipalities and their residents if oil and gas drilling is allowed to proceed inside their boundaries.
Council originally took this stance on urban drilling because we see it as an ongoing issue in Alberta. There are already other cases elsewhere in the province where drilling rights have been sought and awarded within urban boundaries.