Mayor: Spill response centre needed here

Ucluelet has been looking for new opportunities for the Amphitrite Coast Guard facility and believes one may be found in oil spill response.

“We would like employment in our community and we would like higher skilled advanced employment opportunities that have a direct connection to our marine environment,” said Ucluelet Mayor Bill Irving.

Irving said the district has presented the idea to Kinder Morgan and both the provincial and federal governments and has been met with some interest.

“In all those cases there’s an interest and that’s all I can say at this point, there’s interest and that has got potential,” Irving said. “Nobody’s making a commitment but, rather than slam the door on us, everybody has said there’s potential there.”

Kinder Morgan has proposed an expansion of its Trans Mountain Pipeline but Irving believes the outcome of this proposal should not affect the potential of an oil spill response centre in Ucluelet.

“Today 15,000 large ships go in and out of Juan de Fuca strait and each one of those carries enough fuel to be a potential oil spill,” he said.

“Our pitch to the government

and Kinder Morgan was if you’re talking about showing Canada world class oil spill response you can do that right now, you don’t have to wait for increased tanker traffic, there’s enough fuel going up and down this coast now to develop programs which show Canadians that you are really serious, regardless of any increase in tanker traffic, about protecting the Coast.”

Irving said such a centre would bring high-level employment, and high-level technology to the region.

“We’ve suggested to government and universities that this could easily go well beyond just an oil spill response and a world class response centre to a real marine ecosystem management centre because the technologies are tied together,” he said. “There’s a lot of technology in this area that could be tied together to a broader marine ecosystem plan…There’s a whole marine ecosystem science beyond oil spill that could be a benefit to the Pacific Coast and stationed out of Ucluelet.”

reporter@westerlynews.ca