Ucluelet’s municipal candidates talk tanker traffic

Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion means Ucluelet could see an increase in tanker traffic and locals want to know where there municipal candidates stand on the issue.

Ucluelet’s slate of municipal hopefuls were asked about pipeline expansions during last week’s all candidates meeting.

Among the candidates, incumbent Geoff Lyons expressed the firmest support for pipelines.

“There’s an economic opportunity for Canada, and British Columbia specifically, with oil pipelines but only after commitment that there’s going to be the best possible protection for the environment,” he said.

He said thousands of vessels currently pass by Ucluelet every day regardless of any expansions and spoke to Ucluelet’s lobbying efforts towards transforming the Coast Guard property at Amphitrite Point into an oil spill response centre.

“I am in support of the pipeline and I think the economic benefit to BC is incredible,” he said.

“We just need to make sure that everyone is kept with their feet to the fire to make sure that they’re giving us that protection and we can certainly provide Ucluelet as a source of that protection by offering our Coast Guard property as an area where that can be utilized.”

He expressed his desire to see a transition to green energy, specifically wave energy, in the future.

 â€œThe accountant in me says there has to be a strategic move from oil; if we turn oil off tomorrow there would be an economic collapse of the world’s economy,” he said.

“We need to phase ourselves out of it and it’s going to take 30-50 years in my personal mind.”

Mayco Noel did not offer a stance on pipelines but suggested Ucluelet could have a leg up on Tofino in terms of emergency response.

“One thing that Tofino doesn’t have which Ucluelet has the possibility of is commercial public barge facilities for actually accessing the water,” he said.   

“The district of Tofino to my knowledge doesn’t have that. Ucluelet could have an upper hand for the Coast for quick response and stuff like that.”

Incumbent Dario Corlazzoli said he was undecided and needed more information.

“I think most people in British Columbia need to be educated with actually truthful information, not from the oil companies and not from governments but from people,” he said. “If it is possible safely, then show us and prove it to us.”

He expressed concern over the closure of the Amphitrite Coast Guard station in Ucluelet and echoed Lyons sentiment that the property should become an oil response centre.

“They’re taking away things that, in my mind, they should be expanding,” he said.

 â€œThey need to prove to us that they have concern for our environment and they can show us by putting things in place that can deal with a problem if it does happen.”

Incumbent Randy Oliwa said locals make decisions with their everyday purchases.  

“I’m not going to lecture anybody here because everybody that I speak with nowadays is so in tune with the power of their dollar. If you don’t want to shop in the frozen food section of your local grocery store because you don’t believe in that food, don’t do it,” he said.

“The same type of analogy transcends to every day actions (like) turning off the light switch. What are you doing yourself personally, in your home and teaching your children, to conserve? That’s where it starts.”

Incumbent Sally Mole said Ucluelet’s coastline is a “hugely valuable resource,” that she would be hard-pressed to mess with.

“It would take a lot for me to be convinced that adding any more burden or possible risk to damaging that environment, that valuable coastline we have; it would be a hard argument to make,” she said.

Marilyn McEwen spoke to the recent oil spill scare caused when a large Russian vessel lost power near Haida Gwaii and was at risk of crashing ashore and spilling its oil

She said the potential disaster put a focus on the potential dangers to coastlines.

“I too would want more information and to be assured there are some safeguards in place before I condoned more activity,” she said.  

Read more meeting coverage in this week’s Westerly News, on newsstands now.

reporter@westerlynews.ca