City Council passes motion to protect Vancouver from risks of major oil spills

In a 9-1 vote today, Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver City Council passed a motion for city staff and the Vancouver Economic Commission to report back on the benefits and risks of a proposed pipeline expansion, and develop a bylaw that would protect Vancouver from the immense costs and risk of potential oil spills in or near our harbour.

US oil giant Kinder Morgan has announced $5 billion plans to twin their TransMountain Pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, which would result in a fivefold increase in oil-tanker traffic through Vancouver. This would force at least 25-30 large oil tankers through our harbour every month (300-360 tankers arriving and departing every year).

The risks are obvious and enormous: a worst-case scenario oil spill would have disastrous consequences for our local environment and marine habitat, not to mention the potential for major job losses resulting from lost tourism and other economic activity.

As one of the City’s first steps in what will be a long process, staff will prepare a bylaw to ensure that Vancouver taxpayers and small businesses aren’t left on the hook for billions of dollars in the event of a worst-case oil spill in or near Vancouver harbour.

The maximum liability funding from industry for clean-up and damages in the aftermath of an oil spill in Canadian waters is just $1.33 billion.

This is despite the $3.5 billion costs since 1989 of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and the alarming costs of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which are estimated to be approaching $100 billion.

Closer to home, studies have estimated the potential cost of an oil spill on BC’s North Coast at between $5.2 billion and $22.7 billion – and the economic damage from a spill near an urban centre such as Vancouver would be substantially higher.

The motion passed today reflect’s the Mayor’s view that Vancouver should take every possible action to protect our taxpayers from the risks and costs of a worst-case crude oil spill.

Click below to see the Mayor’s original motion (before one addition in Council today), and please take a moment to share this post and spread the word:

Oil Spill Protection Bylaw//

Recent Oil Tanker Traffic Through Vancouver:

2007 - 37 tankers
2008 - 42
2009 - 65
2010 - 69
2011 - 32

2017 - 300-360 tankers (Kinder Morgan estimates)