Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision-led Vancouver City Council took another bold step yesterday in their increasingly outspoken opposition to Texas pipeline giant Kinder Morgan's plans to increase dramatically oil tanker traffic through Vancouver's harbour. The vote, which passed with all but one in favour - NPA councillor George Affleck - is the latest move by municipal leaders against Kinder Morgan since the company formally announced the intention to twin its existing Trans Mountain Pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to its Westridge Terminal in Burnaby. The existing line carries 300,000 barrels of bitumen a day, whereas the new line would add an additional 550,000 - slightly more than the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline to Kitimat.
The result, as the motion filed by the mayor suggested, would be a five-fold increase in oil tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet and South Coast region from the 2010 level of 71 tankers.The motion also noted, "It is estimated that even larger tankers will be required to take the increased volume of oil to foreign market, increasing the risk of a large oil spill, and requiring extensive dredging of the Vancouver Harbour and/or Fraser River."
Watch Ben West interview here (story continues below)
The motion called for the creation of a bylaw that "would require pipeline operators and oil tankers using Burrard Inlet, Vancouver Harbour and/or the Fraser River to indemnify the City of Vancouver and existing local industries through appropriate liability insurance at a level equal to the projected amount of clean up operation costs, and loss of business compensation for a worst case scenario oil spill."
In the interim, it also decreed that "the Mayor write to Prime Minister Harper expressing the City of Vancouver's strenuous opposition to any increase in oil tanker traffic, or measures that lead to increased oil tanker traffic, as it poses an unacceptable and unmitigated risk to Vancouver's economy and environment."
Council's bylaw follows on the heels of the Vancouver Parks Board's vote earlier this week to formally oppose Kinder's pipeline and tanker plans and vocal comments from Robertson in the media, vowing to do everything in his ability to foil Kinder's plans to turn Vancouver into a shipping port for the Tar Sands.
Council heard from Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation - on whose traditional territory the pipeline terminus and tanker terminal are located. The North Vancouver nation has come out in strong opposition to the project, reiterating its position Wednesday at City Hall. Other interveners included Ben West of the Wilderness Committee (see above video), Tarah Stafford of Tanker Free BC and West Coast Environmental Law's Rachel Forbes.