New spill facilities good news

New environmental response team and equipment good news for North Island.

A new environmental response Newe team and equipment for Part Hardy is good news for the North Island.

A new logistics depot in Port Hardy, to house environmental response staff and equipment to ensure rapid response to any spill, is part of the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan announced last week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The press release by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson on behalf of the Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Transport “is exciting and welcomed news for Port Hardy,” said District of Port Hardy Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick.

“Ashraf Amlani, Special Assistant, Pacific – West Desk for Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been contacted for further details with regards to the announcement,” McCarrick said.

Among the highlights of the announcement:

• Enhanced protection of the southern resident killer whales through investments in new large mammal avoidance systems and new measures to mitigate noise. Creation of six new lifeboat stations, including stations in Victoria, Port Renfrew and Nootka.

“The Oceans Protection Plan will lead to better responses when incidents occur off our coasts. And most importantly, it will take steps to ensure marine incidents do not happen in the first place,” Wilkinson said in a media release.

“The plan will help create economic opportunities for Canadians today, including jobs for the middle-class and for Indigenous Canadians, while protecting our waters for future generations to enjoy this extraordinary place.”

Among the previously announced marine spill response enhancements were Indigenous Community Response Teams and improved towing capacity for Canadian Coast Guard vessels.

After an announced federal plan that seemed considerably less than what B.C. officials had requested of Ottawa, Premier Christy Clark said she was pleased with the progress after years of requests for more resources.

A briefing from federal officials left her confident that “the bulk of the benefits” will go to the Pacific coast, including one of the new heavy rescue tugs and towing upgrades to four Coast Guard vessels, she said. “I have to say I have no cause for complaint with what we’ve seen today,” Clark told reporters. — with files from Tom Fletcher