A planned spill response base in Port Alberni is on hold. (WCMRC)

B.C. cities push for spill response base despite Trans Mountain decision

UBCM delegates voted to ask the province to continue building bases

Port Alberni council got the support of their peers last week, as their fellow mayors and councillors voted to ask the province to go ahead with a spill response that had been halted along with Trans Mountain.

Delegates at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler voted Friday morning to ask the province to continue the spill response measures put in limbo after the federal appeals court struck down the pipeline.

Coun. Chris Alemany, who brought the resolution forward, said that federal ownership of Trans Mountain meant that it was government, not industry, who needed to pay for the spill response.

“Now that the federal government is an owner of the pipeline, the federal government has a responsibility to guarantee a response base, whether the pipeline happens or not,” said Alemany following the convention.

READ MORE: B.C. spill response plans in limbo after Trans Mountain decision

Initially, a $150 million spill response had been made a condition of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by the National Energy Board,

The money was to be collected by Western Canada Marine Response Corp. from an impending toll on the expanded pipeline.

The corporation is an industry-funded organization tasked with responding to and cleaning up spills along B.C.’s coast.

So far, WCMRC has spent 13 per cent of the planned $150 million spill response.

But those plans were put on hold, WCMRC communications director Michael Lowry told Black Press Media earlier this month.

When the pipeline approval was struck down in early September, Lowry said that spill response plans were being put on hold.

Those plans included six bases – Vancouver Harbour, near Annacis Island in the Fraser River, in Nanaimo, the Saanich Peninsula, Beecher Bay near Sooke and in Port Alberni.

WCMRC has already signed a 25-year lease for the Port Alberni base, located near Harbour Quay.

“The spill response bases are going to be a huge economic driver on the Island and on the coast,” Alemany said.

“They represent a significant number of jobs.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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