Shale gas's effects on tourism focus of march

Dozens of people demonstrated against the practice of hydro-fracking for shale gas and its potential effects on local tourism Monday night in Hillsborough.

The event called Walk the Block was organized by a group called Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County.

Demonstrators marched along Main Street to pressure municipal councils in Hillsborough, Riverside-Albert and Alma to take a stand on the issue of hydro-fracking — or fracking — in which sand, water and chemicals are injected into the ground to create cracks in shale rock formations, allowing for natural gas extraction.

"Albert County is promoted by the province as a tourism destination and our operators work hard for their livelihood. Whatever happens here, affects all," said Deborah Carr, co-chairperson of WEPAC in a news release.

"Hillsborough has well pads on three sides of the village — one close to our water wells. Imagine this in 10 years and the possible development that may take place. Who would encourage a high impact, environmentally-abusive industry in one of the gateway towns to the Fundy Experience? That puts a whole new slant on eco-tourism marketing."

Demonstrators were also calling for the collection of baseline health data before development proceeds.

The walk was organized on the heels of two public meetings in February.

"We shared what was ahead for our community, and what WEPAC has done with respect to research, letter writing and meeting with both government and industry," said Carr.

"The people in the audience felt we had done all that we could and it was now up to them to put their feet on the street and make a public statement."

The Alward government announced new shale gas rules in February, which it claims are among the strictest in North America.

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