For the first time ever, I watched Fredericton City Council on Rogers TV.  I was only interested in the presentation about the woodlot and the objections that were given so I skipped through the rest of the meeting.

Mayor Brad Woodside set some ground rules at the beginning. He wanted no mention of the Facebook group and he insisted that if someone ahead of you already made the same point, please don’t waste everybody’s time by repeating it.

The meeting started with the declaration that it was only about rezoning for the gas bar. The applicant changed their mind about filling in a portion of Corbett Brook (because the Department of the Environment told them they couldn’t). This means that the original approval of the Costco from 2005 was still on the books and therefore not for discussion. This late notice about the change left many people surprised and the made most of the presentations off-topic.  The actual area for discussion is seen here: (sorry it’s blurry, it came from a screen capture)

wetland_detail

The purple area is the current wetland and 30m buffer zone. It is not being removed, just moved. As described below, it is not environmentally sensitive:

wetland3

Then came the presentations. I was expecting a lot of theatrics and grandstanding, which the opposition groups had done in the past. I was pleasantly surprised that there was absolutely none of that. All of the presenters were respectful and well spoken.

Despite all of the people presenting, there wasn’t one single argument stating any facts as to why there shouldn’t be a gas bar at that site. The closest they were able to give was that the gas bar increases the possibility of a risk to the wetland. They didn’t know what that actual risk would be, if there even was one. They also said they weren’t aware of how a modern gas station’s leak detection and monitoring solution would work.

The rest of the presentations were significantly off-topic. They were debating the merits of box stores in general, the recreational use of the woodlot, peak oil and how it will become too expensive to drive to Costco, doom and gloom caused by drive-to destinations as well as the First nations claims to the land.

There was one presentation from a retired UNB Engineering professor who said he represented the silent majority.The spirit of his presentation was similar to previous postings here in that there is balance in the overall woodlot development.

The proponents, represented by the Terrain Group, then made a very brief presentation clearing up some inaccuracies that were in some of the previous presentations. Two of their main points were that the provincial department of the environment still has to approve the gas station and that the area is not in Fredericton’s Wellfield Protection Zone so there will be no risk to drinking water should there be a major leak.

The presentations ended and the councilors brought up two points. The first was that they wanted to be able to review the facts on the actual risk of a fuel leak so they asked for some documents from the proponents. The second was that an Irving gas station had already been approved on Bishop Dr near Lian St. This is also near a wetland.

Hopefully council will make an appropriate decision based on hard evidence and good data.