VICTORIA— Municipal representatives in Victoria for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual convention voted last week to oppose projects that could lead to an expansion of oil tanker traffic in B.C. waters. But not by much.
The resolution was passed after an electronic vote returned 51.3 percent in favour of the Saanich-led motion, with 48.7 percent opposed.
The wording of resolution A-8 states that “a crude oil spill would have devastating and long-lasting effects on British Columbia’s unique and diverse coast, which provides critical marine habitat and marine resources that sustain the social, cultural, environmental and economic health of coastal and First Nations communities,” and that “citizens of British Columbia, particularly those living in coastal communities, and First Nations communities and environmental groups have expressed well-founded concerns over the expansion of oil pipelines and oil tankers.”
Those arguing for the resolution cited concerns over the devastation that a tanker spill would cause to the B.C. coastline.
“Communities in the interior of B.C. and on the coast can survive and thrive without this pipeline,” said Victoria Councillor Ben Isitt. “I’m not convinced smaller communities and even large ones can thrive in the face of a catastrophic oil spill.”
Those in opposition voiced concerns that the resolution would discourage oil businesses from investing in B.C. “The oil in Canada is going to come out of the ground and it’s going to find its way to market,” said Prince George Mayor Shari Green, pointing out that that the oil could simply be routed through the U.S., with the province losing out on oil revenue. “Tsunami debris is already arriving on our shorelines,” said Green. “So would oil from our neighbours should there be an accident.”
UBCM will now “urge the Premier of British Columbial, the Leader of the Official Opposition and members of the Legislative Assembly to use whatever legislative and administrative means that are available to stop the expansion of oil tanker traffic through BC’s coastal waters.”