Mayor urges Council to support intervening with National Energy Board on oil tanker traffic expansion

December 4, 2013 | Jobs and the Economy

City Council received an update from staff today on the risks facing Vancouver from a proposal to expand the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline, dramatically increasing oil tanker traffic in and around Vancouver’s harbour and local waters. Mayor Robertson has tabled a motion for the City of Vancouver to apply to intervene in National Energy Board hearings on the proposal that are expected to begin in early 2014.

“Today we received further evidence from staff that the threat of a major oil spill in or near Vancouver’s waters poses unacceptable risks to our local economy and environment,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The City of Vancouver’s intervention in the National Energy Board’s hearings will outline Vancouver’s significant concerns about a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic, and help ensure that our harbour, our local economy, and Vancouver treasures like Stanley Park are safe from the untold risks of a catastrophic oil spill.”

Staff reported that Kinder Morgan’s proposal would increase the number of oil tankers navigating through Vancouver’s busy Burrard Inlet from 5 to 34 vessels each month. The increase would result in over 212 million barrels of oil each year being moved through a delicate marine ecosystem that helps to support over 28,000 jobs in Vancouver’s $3.6 billion tourism industry.

Staff identified insufficient and uncoordinated oil spill response capacity on the West Coast to be a significant risk to Vancouver, a concern that echoes similar findings by both the BC Government’s 2013 West Coast Spill Response Study and the Federal Government’s Tanker Safety Expert Panel. Staff also identified that the BC study omitted consideration of the impacts of a major spill in an urban area.

A significant risk to taxpayers was also outlined, with total available funds for clean-up and recovery capped at approximately $1.33 billion - insufficient capacity for even a moderate spill. Last year Mayor Robertson called for the limits on liability to be lifted to protect local businesses and taxpayers in the event of a worst-case oil spill, and yesterday the same recommendation was made in the report of the Federal Government’s Tanker Safety Expert Panel.

To view the full presentation from City of Vancouver staff, please click here:

To view the Vancouver Economic Commission’s literature review on oil spill impacts relevant to Vancouver, please click here: