Energy development in and around urban areas will be the focus of a meeting this Thursday in Red Deer.
The provincial government is organizing four such gatherings across the province to obtain feedback related to the issue, with the others to take place in Calgary, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie. Input from the general public is also being sought through an online questionnaire.
Natasha McKenzie, a public affairs officer with Alberta Energy, said the initiative resulted from a motion made last April by Calgary MLA Sandra Jansen.
That motion, which was passed in response to proposed gas and oil development in Calgary’s Royal Oak and Rocky Ridge communities, called for the establishment of a working group to review policies related to oil and gas development in urban areas.
McKenzie said the four meetings are by invitation only, with about 40 participants asked to take part in each. “There’ll be municipalities, industry and a variety of stakeholders that have an interest in this.”
Restricting attendance to invitees with a strong interest in the issue was seen as a way to ensure “frank and focused discussion,” she said.
But the online questionnaire, which became available Monday and will remain until July 15, gives others an opportunity to view the same background information and provide their own opinions.
“We’re very interested in hearing their perspectives on energy development in and near urban areas, as well as any principles that should be considered when energy development occurs, and then how the government could balance environmental, economic and social outcomes,” said McKenzie.
Information provided includes the process for licensing oil and gas developments, the role and procedures of the Alberta Energy Regulator, regulations governing safety and environmental protection, and the involvement of municipalities, Alberta Health Services and the Property Rights Advocate.
Feedback obtained will be compiled and analyzed, said McKenzie.
She said the cities hosting meetings were chosen on the basis of the interest expressed by their municipal officials, and their location within the province. Representatives of Alberta Energy, Alberta Health, Alberta Municipal Affairs, the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Property Rights Advocate will take part in each meeting.
The online questionnaire and related information can be accessed on the Alberta Energy website (www.energy.alberta.ca) by clicking on “Energy development in urban areas.”