WCMRC celebrates 40th anniversary

On August 26th, WCMRC held a public open house on the water at the Shipyards Night Market in Lower Lonsdale. We hosted the public on two of our newer vessels – the MJ Green and the GM Penman. On Saturday, the two vessels moved to Harbour Green Park in Coal Harbour for another full day of public tours.

Many people don’t realize that concerted efforts have been going on to protect Vancouver Harbour from oil spills since the mid-1970s. This year marks the 40-year anniversary of Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC), B.C.’s primary spill response organization.

In 1976 the main oil and pipeline terminals in Vancouver Harbour came together and formed a co-op called Burrard Clean Operations, so they could respond to oil spills together. Burrard Clean, later to become WCMRC, would be prepared in the event of an oil spill in Burrard Inlet.

Then in 1995, our responsibility became a lot bigger.

Changes to the Canada Shipping Act came into play and the new rules shifted responsibility for cleaning up oil spills from the government onto the shoulders of whoever caused the spill, where it belonged. As a result, our membership increased from six to more than 1,200. Now we’re at more than 2,300.

And our response area grew to everything along the B.C. coast from Alaska to the Washington border – 27,000 km of coastline.

As the organization grew, so did our visibility within our community. Although many Vancouverites don’t realize it, our oil spill responders on the B.C. coast are world leaders. We take a leadership role, pushing for stronger, better spill response on all fronts.

We cooperate with other Canadian response organizations and government agencies to shape the regime. We push for increased response capacity and help establish guidelines on other policies that contribute to cleaner waters.

The methods we use to protect B.C.’s coast have come a long way over the past 40 years, but our passion for keeping B.C. pristine has stayed the same. B.C.’s waters are precious to us all, and we’re honoured to protect them.

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