WCMRC is moving forward with plans to build a new on-water spill response base in Vancouver Harbour. The base is part of a larger expansion plan that commits approximately $200 million in enhancements to the Canadian spill response regime. The enhancements will double capacity and cut mandated response times in half in South Coast waters.
WCMRC has a fleet of 17 vessels stationed in Vancouver Harbour. The vessels are currently moored at different docks throughout Burrard Inlet. The new base would bring the vessels and crews together in one central harbour location, streamlining operations and significantly reducing spill response times in the harbour and the south coast of B.C.
The Trans Mountain Expansion Project received federal cabinet approval on November 29, 2016. The project now requires a Final Investment Decision from Kinder Morgan before work on the enhancement program will commence. That decision is expected in Q1 2017.
The enhancements include five new response bases, approximately 115 new employees and approximately 26 new vessels at strategic locations along B.C.’s southern shipping lane. The enhancements also call for 24/7 operations at three of the new bases, including the proposed base in Vancouver Harbour. WCMRC is currently on call 24/7, but does not have crews operating 24/7.
While the region’s existing spill response regime already meets global standards, these enhancements will further improve safety for the entire marine shipping industry. The new measures were based on risk assessments, product testing and oil spill modelling and will provide additional protection for the South Coast of British Columbia.
The on-water base in Vancouver Harbour would be built at 2800 Commissioner Street, near New Brighton Park, on the site of the old Prince Rupert Fishing Co-operative. The new facility would primarily consist of new docks to moor vessels, as well as an office to accommodate response crews. WCMRC’s two large barges would act as a breakwater for rapid response vessels, mobile skimmers, workboats and mini-barges. The base would also provide moorage for one of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services’ new fireboats.
The proposed Vancouver Harbour response base also requires approval from Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. WCMRC submitted an application to the port authority and they are in the process of reviewing the application. The proposal will be subject to the port authority’s Project and Environmental Review Process. If the Commissioner Street response base is approved by the port authority, and Kinder Morgan decides to proceed with their pipeline expansion, construction of the base would begin in early 2017 and be operational in 2018.
To review the permit application and status, please visit the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s website here.