Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) has signed agreements with the Sc’ianew First Nation to build a new spill response base in the nation’s territory.
The facilities will help protect the territory in the event that the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion experiences a spill.
Chief Russ Chipps of the Sc’ianew First Nation saw the agreement as a major victory for conservation.
“When we first saw the announcement of the pipeline, it upset us and we weren’t certain where we fit on the issue or agreements,” said Chipps.
The Sc’ianew soon discovered that its territory was 72 hours away from the closest spill response resources.
“That wasn’t good enough,” said Chipps.
He also praised the WCMRC for working with the Nation in a respectful way.
“The biggest thing was they treated us as equals…equal partners,” he said.
The Sc’ianew (Cheanuh) First Nations’ main community is on Beecher Bay in East Sooke, 30 kilometres southwest of Victoria.
The new base will be split between two locations. Nine vessels will be moored at Cheanuh Marina and an office/warehouse will be built close by. The new base is part of the $150 million spill response enhancements that are required for the pipeline project.
Work on the new docks at Cheanuh Marina is expected to start this month and be complete in summer 2021. Construction of the office/warehouse will begin in July 2021. The base will house 20 full-time response personnel and will be fully operational by fall 2022.
“We have a common goal of protecting our coastline,” said Kevin Gardner, president of the WCMRC, in a press release. “That is a powerful place to start a relationship. We look forward to building a strong response community in Beecher Bay.”
As part of the Trans Mountain spill response enhancements, the WCMRC will be adding a total of 48 new vessels, 120 personnel and six new response bases.
Currently, Trans Mountain delivers about 300,000 barrels of petroleum products daily, but expansion is expected to boost that to 890,000 barrels and increase the number of tankers through Vancouver’s harbour to more than one a day.
The estimated cost of completing the entire expansion project was originally estimated at $7.4 billion, but in February it was announced the budget was around $12.6 billion.
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