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Oil industry workers oppose drilling near their Calgary suburb

Will next week's Alberta election resolve one Calgary suburb's fight to keep an oil well out of its backyard?

Nothing's certain in a provincial race that recent polling still suggests could hand the Wildrose Party a majority.

But Progressive Conservative candidate Sandra Jansen has vowed to stop a proposal by Kaiser Exploration to drill for oil within sight of Royal Oaks, a northwest neighbourhood many oil and gas workers call home.

"Constituents in Calgary-North West feel strongly that the process surrounding the granting of this particular license has not been sufficient," reads a press release from Jansen issued earlier this month.

She was responding to the fact that Kaiser's plan to begin drilling this summer has already been approved by Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board.

Local residents base their opposition on oil leak potential, lack of evacuation routes, improper consultation and lowered property values -- concerns familiar to those fighting pipeline expansion projects in B.C., or indeed, oil and gas projects anywhere.

Drilling in urban areas is nothing new for Alberta, and Kaiser hopes to tap into an estimated 6 million barrels of conventional crude oil.

"It would be somewhat hypocritical to say we don't want an oil well in this city when we have companies headquartered in this city which have drilled wells in Edmonton, Red Deer, Medicine Hat and other cities," project general manager Ned Beattie said in February.

Albertans will elect their new government on April 23.

Geoff Dembicki reports on energy and climate issues for The Tyee.

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