Tamarack Acquisitions applied to drill at an existing well site in the coulees in the city's southwest back in late October, however City Council nor the City Manager were ever informed.
Lethbridge City Council is expressing major concern after a company was given the go-ahead to drill for oil and gas within city limits.
A few years ago, City Council passed a resolution making it very clear it was against urban drilling. At that time, there was large public outcry over fracking.
Mayor Chris Spearman says Council was made aware of the drilling now taking place in southwest Lethbridge through resident emails and on social media over the weekend. "An application was filed by Tamarack Acquisitions through Alberta Energy and City of Lethbridge administration on October 26, 2018. Notices of this filing were not passed on to City Council or the City Manager."
Spearman says there's nothing the city can due to overrule the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), however Councillors could've filed a concern had they been notified of the application.
City Planning Director, Jeff Greene was asked about the approval from local media Monday (Feb. 4). He says from their standpoint it was looked at from a technical perspective. "We made the determination there was little we (the city) could do so we didn't pass that information on to City Council. That's something we will change now. We will be putting in a protocol to make sure City Council is informed of these situations in the future."
Lethbridge West MLA and Alberta Environment Minister, Shannon Phillips showed up to City Hall as well to speak about the issue. She says one of the changes her government made was that municipalities would get automatic standing within AER proceedings with respect to oil and gas developments with their boundaries. "That regulatory change did not take effect, however until January 1, 2019 (this year), so it does not apply to this application. However, the municipality (City of Lethbridge) was notified, so regardless had we made that change or not, the notification did occur."
Mayor Spearman says Council is opposed to any new oil and gas drilling within city limits, however he notes the city has no legal authority to stand in the way of the AER.
Mayor Chris Spearman: