Government officials are pressuring the federal Liberals to fund six marine spill response bases on the west coast after Kinder Morgan put a hold on any capital pipeline project spending last week.
The West Coast Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) spill response base construction was contingent on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline getting final approval. Port Alberni was supposed to receive one of those six bases.
At the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities conference last weekend, the City of Port Alberni brought forward an urgent motion asking the provincial and federal governments “to guarantee the construction of the oil spill response bases no matter what happens with Kinder Morgan,” Port Alberni city councillor Chris Alemany said. The AVICC supports the motion, Alemany said in a social media post.
Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, visiting Port Alberni last week for an event at the AV Multiplex, said the issue of marine spill response “should never have been politicized.”
He hopes to bring up the issue in the House of Commons in Ottawa, to find a way to fund the marine spill response bases whether or not the Kinder Morgan pipeline project goes ahead.
“We’re disappointed that Kinder Morgan has halted their decision and that subsequently put on hold the development of the WCMRC project here,” Port Alberni Port Authority president and Ceo Zoran Knezevic said. “It affects more than our jobs plan development.”
Knezevic said the spill response base in Port Alberni would have employed 22 people and included “five or six” vessels.
“The decision to postpone the build up of the pipeline is quite the negative effect on Port Alberni.”
Work on Port Alberni’s WCMRC wharf will continue, because it is only partially complete, WCMRC spokesperson Michael Lowry said. “The construction of our main base on the port property will be on hold,” he added.
The wharf is partially built behind Port Boat House. Some of the base vessels were supposed to be based there. The decking will be completed, as will paving and installation of railings to make the site safe, Knezevic said.
Port Alberni was to house a barge, boom and skimming vessels as well as various support vessels. Work was supposed to be completed in 2018.
“This would be a significant loss to the west coast marine community,” Lowry said. “These bases were going to be for any kind of spill. They will be a significant loss if they don’t go forward.”