I was doing some research on another sector entirely and I came across this study of the economic and employment impact of the natural gas industry in Canada (a 2009 study).
I get a little leery of the use of induced impacts – Statistics Canada stopped publishing them altogether a few years ago but other consulting firms still use them -but nevertheless the numbers are significant. Look at the employment impact in western Canada. Hundreds of thousands of jobs supported each year.
Of course the extent of the potential natural gas exploration industry in New Brunswick is considerably less than in western Canada (where hydro-fracking is the principal way they are extracting the gas these days) but even at a fraction of the amount it would be huge.
When the mayor of Fredericton makes indignant statements about the industry and statements like “our water is more important than natural gas” – I just hope he is grounding this position in research and analysis and not based on the prevailing winds of populism. I contrast Mayor Woodside’s position with the Mayor of Pittsburgh who has refused to sign a ban on fracking inside city limits.
In a strange way, the Costco example in Fredericton is instructive. There was somewhat of a ground swell of opposition to putting it in a wetlands area but they went ahead anyway because everyone wanted a Costco.
I guess for some people, cheaper fresh beef (admittedly the price at Costco is really good) is worth fighting for but a sector of the economy that could provide good, high paying jobs and millions in tax revenue to governments is not.