A Quebec court has struck down a Gaspe
municipal bylaw that tried to prevent exploratory oil wells being
drilled and fracked uncomfortably close to its drinking water
supply. The court ruled that the bylaw was invalid because it
prevented Petrolia Inc. from carrying out drilling
specifically authorized by the province.
One of the drill sites is only 350 metres from homes served
by the municipal water system and within two kilometres of some 400
homes that depend on drinking water wells. One of those homes is
only 850 metres away. Petrolia Inc.
testified that it would not be fracking these particular wells,
because it was not necessary for the local geology, so the issue
was focussed on municipal concerns about risks from drilling
The municipal anti-drilling, anti-fracking bylaw
prohibited introducing anything into the ground, by drilling
or other physical process, mechanical, chemical, biological or
otherwise, any substance likely to impair the quality of
groundwater or surface water used for human or animal consumption,
(i.e. drilling and fracking) within the following setbacks,
everywhere in Gaspe:
10 km from any surface water source of municipal water
6 km from any artesian wells or surface water serving more than
twenty (20) persons; and
2 km from any artesian wells or surface water serving twenty
(20) persons or less...
The anti-fracking bylaw did not attempt to identify areas of
especial vulnerability to the risks of the drilling, which might
have helped to support its validity.
The court held that the provincial law, which authorized the
drilling, was intended to provide the exclusive source of
regulation of oil drilling, and that the municipality had no right
to interfere with how it was done.
 In sum , the fact that the laws
and regulations adopted by the Parliament and the Government of
Quebec do not address the concerns of the Town of Gaspé does
not justify regulation by the latter of an industry specifically
withdrawn from its authority.
 In accordance with the fourth
paragraph of Article 124 of the Law on Environmental Quality and
Article 3 of the Act on Municipal Powers , Article 8 of Regulation
No. 1205-12 of the City is ineffective against drilling authorized
under the Mining Act and regulations made thereunder, particularly
with respect to those of Petrolia and Articles 9 to 14 of the
Regulations are ultra vires in relation to those activities.
However, if these items 9-14 could be considered as part of the
municipal authority , they would also be declared inoperative under
the fourth paragraph of Article 124 of the Law on Environmental
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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