A resolution opposing projects – such as two pipeline proposals – that would increase the number of oil tankers off BC’s coast passed narrowly Thursday at the 2012 Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Victoria.
Islands Trust Chair Sheila Malcolmson said by email Thursday that delegates voted 51.3 per cent in favour and 48.7 per cent against a motion to “… oppose projects that would lead to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through BC’s coastal waters”, and “… urge the Premier of British Columbia, 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”.
The UBCM holds an annual meeting of all BC local governments to consider issues of common interest.
As previously reported, many – including a large contingent of Gabriolans – say that the risks of, and the potential damage from, oil spills is too high if oil tanker traffic is increased to service a proposed Enbridge “Northern Gateway” pipeline from the tar sands to Kitimat or the twinning of a Kinder Morgan pipeline to Burnaby.
In response to comments in the mainstream news that Thursday’s vote indicated a split between BC’s coastal and interior elected representatives, Malcolmson said Friday that it was certainly true that those who spoke for the resolution were from the coast, while those who spoke against it represented communities in the interior. However, she said, everybody she spoke to at the convention supported the resolution, so it was hard to know where the opposition came from.
“It was certainly a brave resolution”, Malcolmson said, describing the motion as “unequivocal and provocative”. She said a “more equivocal” resolution would have gained more support.
Malcolmson, who has campaigned vigorously against increased tanker traffic and the pipelines, also said that she “saluted” the municipality of Saanich for putting the resolution forward.
“It makes sense”, Malcolmson added, that coastal community representatives say “for God’s sake there is nothing in this for us and we are absorbing all the risks”. She said she could also understand that there would be some pipeline support from the interior, as communities on both routes might get some jobs from the pipelines.
Asked how she felt about the vote, Malcolmson said she was “really pleased” with the outcome, although she was surprised about how close the vote was.
She said she was also glad that delegates passed a resolution, originally proposed by the Islands Trust, asking the Province to create legislation requiring that shippers and owners carry the liability for their cargo. She said the resolution also asks that shippers and manufacturers of dangerous goods and cargo be required to pay into an emergency fund “to clean up, and compensate for any and all damages, including capital devaluation, social, cultural, and ecological damage, caused by an accident involving said goods and cargo; to fund research into improving clean-up methods to deal with the eventuality of such spills; and to fund a sustained increase in provincial spill prevention, preparedness, mitigation, and response resources”.
The resolution also calls on the UBCM to petition the federal government to “restore the Coast Guard complement and safety measures along our coast to a standard that protects our coastline from the dangers of such accidents, and mitigates the amount of damage that would occur from the result of any such incidents”.
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