CALGARY, Alberta – Calgary city council will vote this week on a controversial new zoning regime in which oil and gas well can be licensed and drilled within Calgary city limits. The proposal comes on the heels of a recent city council decision to allow geological and seismic data acquisition within the city’s core neighbourhoods by both service companies and private individuals.
It seems that for decades there have been a number of oil and gas pools left undeveloped in the interest of preserving the city’s image, but current market and economic conditions seem to be alleviating that red tape.
“We are moving ahead with a vote to either proceed with possible development or not. If we vote to move ahead with this plan, the City will bring in a team to help plan and execute a 25 well drilling plan beginning this fall and proceeding through 2016. If the plan does not proceed, a revamped version with moderate changes will be tabled early next year for new consideration. I personally feel we could drill 100 wells inside Calgary’s municipal borders without disrupting or distracting everyday living conditions.” – Councillor John Chooh
Recent changes to the political climate in Alberta have left Calgary city councillors wondering about the economic future of the province and Calgary. With a foreseeable drain in the coffers imminent, plans including urban oil and gas development seem to make sense. Although the city admits that well planning is in its infancy, the economics calculated thus far are favourable even at sub $60 oil. The rates of return are seemingly so good that some councillors are already planning uses for the yet-to-be-approved income stream.
“We could build 45 new bikes lanes in dense areas of the city. We could put lane ropes into the bow river to help control commuter swimming traffic. There is always a need for new urban art work and residential beautification. Imagine all the community gardens we could build with all of that oil money!” – Drew Barrel
While Mayor Neshi was not available to comment on the proposal, his views have been historically not in favour of punching oil and gas wells all over Calgary. The infrastructure alone would change the landscape of nearly every park or playground where wells have been proposed, and that is not something Neshi typically supports.
While the proposal is still in its infancy, it seems Calgarians have been largely in the dark over the potential new well drilling program. Those who were aware of the plans oppose the proposal after the poor results of the city’s first foray into oil development in 2013.
Many of the Stampede-bound citizens 2P News talked to this weekend were unaware the city was even considering such a plan, let alone voting on it this week. If the vote passes, there will very likely be much discussion about it in the coming weeks.