Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a $1.5 billion ocean-protection plan.
Speaking in Vancouver on Monday, he says this will make Canada a leader in pollution and protection for the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic.
Trudeau announced the funding over a five year period, which will include creating a marine safety system, restoring marine ecosystems, and spending on oil spill cleanup research and methods.
He also calls the situation in Bella Bella “unacceptable.”
But some critics say it doesn’t go far enough.
Wilderness Committee Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney says today’s announcement doesn’t make west coast residents feel any less afraid of Kinder Morgan’s proposed risky pipeline project.
Looking ahead to Kinder Morgan decision
Exactly six weeks from now is the deadline for the Trudeau government to make a decision on the Kinder Morgan Trans-mountain pipeline.
If it’s a yes, it does come amid concerns and criticisms from the B.C. government and First Nations. But Trudeau describes this as complete oceans protection plan, and it’s not about softening the public’s reaction to any pipeline.
“Most Canadians will look at the fact that we are making historic investments in increasing our capacity to respond to emergencies in promoting and protecting our coastlines as a good thing.”
The $1.5 billion dollar plan includes investing in oil spill cleanup research and “addressing abandoned boats and wrecks.”
Meanwhile, the provincial government is also calling for improvements there including new boats, bases and a training centre as well as more information on what a moratorium on tanker traffic would look like.
The Heiltsuk Tribal Council had been waiting to see whether the Prime Minister would announce a long awaited moratorium on crude oil tankers, which is expected before the end of the year, or some improvements to maritime safety following the diesel spill near Bella Bella.
Jess Housty with the Heiltsuk First Nation says the invitation for Trudeau to visit Bella Bella is still open.
She also says that his announcement was a step in the right direction.
“I’m particularly heartened to see an acknowledgement of the importance of traditional knowledge and local knowledge in terms of navigation and marine shipping safety, and an acknowledgement of the reality that First Nations and coastal communities are the first responders in these situations and need to be adequately resourced.”
Housty says she hopes Trudeau follows through with his “blue sky” ideas, and that while his message was positive, she’s waiting on more details.
Green Party Leader applauds what he believes to be ‘orchestrated plan’
B.C.’s Green Party Leader says he’ll give credit where credit is deserved.
Andrew Weaver is applauding the federal government’s announcement to commit $1.5 billion into a marine response plan.
But Weaver says it’s all part of an orchestrated plan.
First wood-fiber LNG gets the green light, now a response strategy.
“You know and then we’ll have a couple weeks off and then out of nowhere is going to come Kinder Morgan, but it’s just going to happen before Christmas.”
His thoughts if Kinder Morgan gets approved?
“So while Vancouver is trying to brand itself as the greenest city in the world by 2020, we’re seeing all the indications that Vancouver is going to be one of the dirtiest cities by 2020.”
Weaver says Ottawa has no idea the anger and backlash it would receive from British Columbians if the pipeline gets the go-ahead.
Kai Nagata from the activist group Dogwood Initiative says Monday’s announcement was more about softening up the public for an expected approval of the Trans-mountain Pipeline amid environmental concerns, and now two vessels have either run aground or sunk off the Central B.C. coast.
“I don’t think anything that the government has done so far would lead me to indicate that they planned to give the project serious pause.”
Meanwhile, campaign director for the environmental organization Seirra Club BC, Caitlyn Vernon, echoes the sentiment that if Trudeau is really serious about protecting coastlines, he’ll reject Kinder Morgan.
Vernon says today’s announcement was welcome news, but it’s not enough.
“It’s important to notice that having a bigger, fancier mop does not reduce the risk of spills, and that there is no known technology possible to clean up diluted bitumen, which is what Kinder Morgan proposes to carry in tankers.”
The federal government has until December 19th to make a decision on the proposed pipeline expansion project.
— Emily Lazatin (@EmilyLazatin980) November 7, 2016
Premier Christy Clark weighs in
Just how much of the $1.5 billion commitment will go to B.C.?
The premier says she it isn’t sure right now, and that this is the first she’s seen of the plan.
“I think based on the numbers, and this is a guess, it looks like British Columbia is going to be receiving the bulk of the benefit from this. Not every one of these items has number attached because there is still procurement to be done for some of the ships and so there just aren’t numbers there at all.”
So, what does she know?
“They’re going to be retrofitting four ships to be able to tow, they are also committing to one tug for B.C.’s coast, in our recommendations to them, and we said we need three.”
Clark says the federal plan shows there’s room for more tugs to be brought in to B.C.’s coast.