Stewardship Council says ‘no’ to fracking on Manitoulin Island

MANITOULIN—The Manitoulin Area Stewardship Council (MASC) has agreed it is not in favour of fracking taking place on Manitoulin Island.

“We’re definitely not supporting the business of fracking taking place on Manitoulin Island,” stated Neil Debassige, co-chair of MASC, after the group held a meeting on Monday. “Research shows there is the potential fallout with fracking with damage-tainting of the water quality and supply is just too high.”

Mr. Debassige said, “there was actually a pretty good article written recently by the David Suzuki Foundation talking about the trading of water for fuel; providing for natural gas and tainting and using up water to use for businesses involved in fracking.”

“With all the research that has been done to show the detrimental effects on water, how can anyone possibly look at the option of fracking?” asked Mr. Debassige. “Whether it’s just because of big business, or just a lack of information from the industry in reporting the problems with fracking, the general public doesn’t get the chance to see all this type of information. (Fracking) is all about big oil companies and the general public doesn’t see any of the benefits these companies get from fracking, but have to deal with the issues involving their effected water quality.”

Mr. Debassige noted the MASC board, “didn’t pass any motions on the issue of fracking but we discussed the results of the public opinion survey that has been done recently. There was consensus among the board members that fracking is not something we have any intention of allowing to take place on the Island. If and when the issue comes up on the Island there will be unification, including First Nations, that there needs to be a resounding ‘no’ to fracking taking place on Manitoulin.”

“We have the research and the results of the public opinion to know where people stand on this issue, against fracking,” said Mr. Debassige. “The other thing is we (MASC) are not a political organization and this issue will be political. We can only play our part in this process and we have a number of people keeping their ‘eyes on the prize.’ A lot of people are looking for any signs of fracking being considered on the Island to make sure if this is ever proposed action can be taken to make sure proper consultation takes place. This is number one in our minds.”

As reported previously, a total of 92.21 percent of respondents to an online poll-survey indicated they are not in favour of fracking taking place on Manitoulin Island.

There were 446 respondents to the survey, with 64 percent being full-time residents of Manitoulin, with the rest being seasonal residents or occasional visitors to the Island.

While there was a long list of items respondents listed as to what they are most concerned about with fracking, the number one issue was contamination of ground water. Habitat destruction and chemical threats to wildlife were near the top as well, but everything listed was close in terms of the numbers.

Forty-five percent of respondents were in favour of working to keep fracking off Manitoulin Island. Many of the respondents indicated they would like to volunteer in any way to keep fracking from taking place on the Island and 44 percent of respondents want to be kept informed on any developments concerning fracking taking place on the Island. The majority, 61 percent people, left their contact information.

“I have a hard time believing in any way that the residents of Manitoulin would be in favour of fracking taking place now or in the future and there would be a huge First Nation component against it as well,” said Mr. Debassige. “The issue with the windmills was one thing, but this is completely different, based on land ownership and fuel, and I think the answer from Manitoulin to anyone considering the practice of fracking on the Island would be a big ‘no’.”

Tom Sasvari