- Published on Monday, 18 June 2012 05:55
The federal government is closing BC's command centre for emergency oil spills at a time when the province is facing two possible pipeline projects and a potential spike in tanker traffic in West Coast waterways.
Ottawa has said it will shut down BC's regional office for emergency oil-spill responders, located in Vancouver, and centralize operations in Quebec in the wake of the cost-cutting March 29 federal budget. The move could affect about 42 jobs in the BC-Yukon region.
The closing comes as pipeline operator Kinder Morgan says it hopes to increase capacity on its Edmonton-to-Burnaby Trans Mountain line, potentially increasing the number of oil tankers in Vancouver's harbour from roughly 70 a year to 360.
Meanwhile, public hearings continue on Enbridge Inc.'s proposed $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to BC, which could result in additional tanker traffic out of a new marine terminal in Kitimat.
“This move is so fundamentally flawed that we couldn’t believe they were serious – it looked at first like a joke” said Mike Richards of the Georgia Straight Alliance, “especially at a time of heightened concern about increased tanker traffic, it just makes no sense to close this important office.”
Reaction from local environmental groups was understandably perplexed but critical. The Georgia Straight Alliance found it difficult to find the right words, but managed a statement expressing their complete opposition to this apparently short-sighted budget cut.