A Western Canada Marine Response Corporation boat during a mock oil response drill in the Nanaimo harbour. WCMRC is planning to build an oil response base in Nanaimo, but has put those plans on hold after Kinder Morgan announced it would stop all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project. (Nicholas Pescod/News Bulletin)

Proposed oil spill response base in Nanaimo postponed

Construction was planned for this summer at Port Way location

A proposed marine oil spill response base in Nanaimo has been put on hold indefinitely.

Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, an organization responsible for cleaning up oil spills along the province’s coast, will not proceed with the construction of its planned oil response station on Port Way.

Michael Lowry, communications manager with WCMRC, said the project was put on hold as a result of Kinder Morgan’s decision to suspend all non-essential spending related to the Trans Mountain pipeline.

RELATED: New spill response bases on hold as pipeline paused

“We are putting on hold any further capital expenditures until there is certainty on whether Trans Mountain is going to go ahead or not,” he said.

Although WCMRC is an independent company, it receives funding from companies involved in the oil, gas and shipping industries, such as Kinder Morgan.

The Nanaimo base was expected to be their operations base for Vancouver Island, employing 35 people. As many as 15 vessels were to be stationed at the Nanaimo location.

RELATED: Work could start this spring on oil-spill-response dock in Nanaimo

The company had also planned to open additional spill response bases in Sidney, Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Beecher Bay as part of a $150-million projectn.

Lowry said all of WCMRC’s proposed response stations have been put on hold. He said construction was expected to begin on the Nanaimo location this summer, but that will not happen anymore.

“The enhancements were always contingent on the pipeline, that is where the funding was coming from. If you don’t have that increase in shipping traffic, the enhancements don’t happen,” said Lowry.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to meet with B.C. Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to discuss the ongoing pipeline dispute between the two provinces.

Should the dispute be resolved in the next few days and if Trans Mountain felt comfortable enough to resume non-essential spending, Lowry said the WCMRC could resume its projects.

“If Trans Mountain makes a decision that they are going to move ahead, if they make that decision tomorrow or next, then that changes things right away for us as well,” he said.


nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

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