An open letter to the candidates of Algoma-Manitoulin

Writer looks forward to learning candidates’ positions on fracking at Expositor’s All Candidates’ Night

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an open letter to the New Democratic Party, Liberal Party and Progressive Conservative candidates running for election in the riding of Algoma-Manitoulin.

Dear Mike Mantha, Craig Hughson and Jib Turner:

I represent a group of citizens and residents of Manitoulin Island called Island FrackWatch. We are concerned about the possibility of shale gas extraction in our region. We formed following the publication of an online poll conducted by The Manitoulin Area Stewardship Council, in which 92 percent of respondents opposed fracking on Manitoulin Island (Manitoulin Expositor, February 19). Thus, I also speak on behalf of the vast majority of people who live on and care for Manitoulin Island.

We are aware that Manitoulin Island sits on a natural gas deposit. The lack of clear policy regarding hydraulic fracturing in Ontario leaves us greatly concerned over the possibility of drilling in our region. In light of the upcoming provincial election, we would like to state our opposition to any hydraulic fracturing on Manitoulin Island.

We believe that the risks associated with fracking could have consequences that are unacceptable for Manitoulin Island and Lake Huron. The risks include:

· Water contamination including leakage of toxic chemicals into groundwater, and spillage into surface water;

· Impact of drilling on regional infrastructure such as roads;

· Air pollution through increased emissions; and

· Destruction of natural habitat at drilling sites and other required development.

Our commitment to maintaining a healthy ecosystem is driven by many factors. We rely on lake and well water for drinking; we grow our food on our land; we make a living from the natural beauty and resources of the forests, lakes, and rivers through tourism. The impact of fracking is felt Island-wide, but we fear that decisions regarding drilling rights will be a process that excludes most stakeholders.

We urge your party to adopt a policy that supports a moratorium on fracking on Manitoulin, and we look forward to hearing your position on the issue at the all candidates’ meeting tonight, Wednesday, May 21.

Yours Sincerely,

Emma Gardner

Manitoulin Island FrackWatch