Residents in Alberta and British Columbia Diametrically Opposed on Fracking


People in the two Western provinces are familiar with the concept of hydraulic fracturing, but while practically half of Albertans support the method of gas extraction in their province, only a third of British Columbians concur.

Vancouver, BC – The views of British Columbians and Albertans on the topic of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are particularly dissimilar, a new two-province Insights West survey conducted in partnership with Business in Vancouver and JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group has found.

(A pdf of the final summary report of the findings is also available.)

The online survey of representative samples in the two Western provinces shows that most residents (56% in Alberta, and 54% in British Columbia) are familiar with the concept of fracking. Men and people over the age of 55 are more likely to be aware of the method of gas extraction.

However, despite having roughly the same level of familiarity, the two provinces are at odds when asked about fracking. Practically half of Albertans (48%) support the method, while just three-in-ten (29%) are opposed. The results are radically different in British Columbia, where only one-in-four residents (26%) supports fracking, and almost half (47%) oppose it.

Support for fracking in the two provinces comes primarily from men (34% in BC, 50% in Alberta) and people over the age of 55 (31% in BC, 57% in AB).

In Alberta, most supporters of the two main provincial political parties support fracking (51% of Progressive Conservative voters in 2012, and 53% of Wildrose voters in the same election). In British Columbia, fracking is more popular among BC Liberal voters in 2013 (37%) than among New Democratic Party (NDP) voters (18%).

A sizeable difference is also observed when respondents are asked if fracking is currently being done in the two provinces. Two thirds of Albertans (68%) are aware that this is the case, while just two-in-five British Columbians (39%) know the method of gas extraction is being applied in their province.

Residents of the two provinces share the same views on some of the perceived benefits of fracking, particularly on issues such as job creation (67% in AB, 61% in BC) and an increase in foreign investment (58% in AB, 57% in BC). However, Albertans are more likely to look at their province as a possible leader in LNG exports because of fracking (56%) than British Columbians (45%).

In addition, British Columbians are decidedly more concerned than Albertans about environmental problems, such as the contamination of the water supply (56% in BC, 43% in AB), a negative impact in the landscape (50% in BC, 36% in AB), higher carbon emissions (40% in BC, 29% in AB), and increased health problems among residents (42% in BC, 26% in AB).

“Albertans are supportive of fracking, and are not as worried about some of the perceived environmental setbacks as their western neighbours,” comments Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “In British Columbia, it is the concern expressed with possible setbacks, particularly in regards to the water supply and the province’s landscape, that is making people uneasy about fracking.”

British Columbians were also asked about their government’s intention to expand the development and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Half of residents (50%) are in favour of this initiative, while one third (32%) are opposed.

The bulk of support for expanding the LNG industry in British Columbia is highest among men (65%) and those aged 55 and over (58%). Most people who voted for the BC Liberals in the last provincial election (73%) endorse the LNG initiative, compared to 34% of NDP voters and 35% of Green Party voters.

In spite of this support for LNG in British Columbia, there is still some skepticism about the effect it will have on the province as a whole. Two-in-five residents (39%) believe LNG will bring benefits to some communities, but not to everyone, while 21% think the LNG initiative will help everyone. One-in-five (22%) say LNG will not bring benefits to most residents.

“The level of support for the government’s LNG push is high, particularly among the BC Liberal base,” comments Canseco. “Still, the notion that the LNG bonanza will be beneficial for the entire province is not resonating with a large proportion of the population at this point.”


About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary and has ten full-time and five part-time employees.


About Business in Vancouver:

Since 1989, Business in Vancouver (BIV) has been part of Vancouver’s business community providing useful information to help keep our readers ahead of their competition. BIV provides local business information that helps our readers and advertisers engage, interact and succeed. The news, events and resources that are important to Metro Vancouver’s business community is delivered in a weekly print edition; online through; daily email news updates; weekly email preview plus updates on Twitter and LinkedIn.


About JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group:

JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group is Canada’s oldest and most recognized energy publishing house. Providing authoritative print and online publications, data sets, maps, charts, and directories, JuneWarren-Nickle’s is the Canadian leader in oil and gas, construction, and alternative energy publishing.


About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from August 22 – 25, 2013, among 660 Albertans and 638 British Columbians who are aged 18+ and are Your Insights panel members. is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age and gender. While statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty, for each province. Click on the following links to view the detailed data tabulations for BC and Alberta.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West

Photograph: Joshua Doubek