The controversial practice of shale gas fracking is no longer welcome within the boundaries of Burnaby, despite the city being nowhere near Northern B.C.'s wells.
On Feb. 18, council passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until more is known about its potential impacts on human life and the environment.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, injects highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals down a well to crack rock formation deep below in an effort to get at natural gas and other petroleum deposits.
The shale gas exploration process has been around for 60 years but has risen in popularity in the last 10 years across Canada and the U.S.
"While hydraulic fracturing is not an issue of local concern in Burnaby, the city has from time to time advocated on environmental matters which have provincial or national significance," the department of engineering report states.
Hydraulic fracturing raises concerns because of its use of freshwater in great volume, its disposal of wastewater, groundwater contamination and the potential for air pollution.
"The difference between hydraulic fracturing and other resource extraction technologies is the maturity of the scientific research on its impacts to the receiving environment," the report states.
Coun. Dan Johnston said fracking is currently occurring in Northern B.C., and one of its other potential problems is that it may cause earthquakes and consume fresh water at an alarming rate, with no real means to get it back.
At Monday night's meeting, Coun. Sav Dhaliwal echoed Johnston's concerns about losing water, but also the toxic chemicals going down with it.
A copy of the Burnaby resolution is being sent to the federal minister of environment, the B.C. minister of environment, the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The city's moratorium is in response to a Council of Canadian request to prohibit hydraulic fracturing.
While Burnaby is not alone in its cautious approach to fracking until more is known about its effects, provinces across Canada currently allow it.
B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan allow fracking, and Nova Scotia has stopped approving more operations until a review of the process is completed next year.
However, Quebec placed a moratorium on fracking and shale gas exploration under the Saint Lawrence River.
Last November, Quebec's moratorium was met with a potential North American Free Trade Agreement challenge from U.S. company Lone Pine Resources Inc., which held a permit that covered more than 30,000 acres in the Saint Lawrence Valley.
The notice was filed as part of a dispute resolution mechanism under the agreement. The company's principal reserves in Canada are in Alberta, B.C., Quebec and the Northwest Territories, according to a media release.
The B.C. Oil Gas and Activities Act addresses fracking, and it forbids operations at depths of less than 600 metres without a permit in order to protect freshwater resources. Under the act, B.C. is the first province to require all operators to disclose the fluids they use, according to the staff report.