B.C. Premier Christy Clark has an ultimatum for the Harper government: No Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, no expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.
She made the comments Wednesday while responding to two federal announcements (found here and here) made this week aimed at calming British Columbians’ fears about new oil pipeline projects from Alberta to the B.C. coast, and discussing her five criteria for supporting any of them.
The Kitsilano base was shuttered a month ago, despite strong opposition from all provincial political parties, saving the federal government about $700,000 a year.
“If they’re closing down Coast Guard stations at the same time that they’re saying they want to improve our Coast Guard capacity, the two just don’t make sense beside each other,” Clark said.
“It sounds to a lot of people like what they’re saying is different from what they’re doing and that poses a real problem for the expansion of heavy oil in British Columbia.”
On Monday in Vancouver, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced $120 million in new funding over five years for “world-class” tanker safety investments.
The Premier said that is a good first step, but more Coast Guard stations, not fewer, will be required before the province will consider any proposals that would increase tanker traffic in B.C.
Kinder Morgan’s proposal, expected to be filed late this year, would boost oil tanker traffic leaving Vancouver’s port from 32 per year to 408.
“When they get to the outcome it’s going to have to include making sure that Kits Coast Guard base is reopened, and the outcome is also going to have to include a beefed up Coast Guard response up and down the coast,” Clark said.
Coast Guard spokesman Dan Bate said via email the Kitsilano base was not an environmental response resource, and that capacity in Vancouver remains unchanged by its closure.
The primary response agency for oil spills in Vancouver is the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation. The Coast Guard has the responsibility to monitor their response in the event of a spill and is able to assist them using two pollution response vessels. One of those was stationed at the Kits base before it closed because it saved the government money on moorage, but both are now stationed in Steveston Harbour.
A quote from Kinder Morgan that was attributed to Michael Davies, senior director of marine development for the Trans Mountain expansion project, said the matter is between the Premier and the federal government.
“We recognize the need for a strong regime for marine safety and marine response,” he said. “There are several reviews that are underway that are addressing these issues and we look forward to the outcomes.”