The federal NDP will be introducing a motion that calls on Stephen Harper’s Conservative party to reopen the Kitsilano Coast Guard base in Vancouver.
This comes after the April 8 oil spill incident when the Marathassa, a grain-carrying cargo ship anchored in Burrard Inlet, leaked approximately 3,000 litres of toxic bunker fuel into Vancouver’s local waters.
It took the nearest Coast Guard base in Richmond six hours to respond to the incident in English Bay and twelve hours to deploy an oil boom in the waters.
Former Kitsilano Coast Guard base commander Fred Moxey says if the Kitsilano base were still operational, it would have been able to respond to the spill in mere minutes – and with the proper equipment needed to contain the oil spill.
“This spill needs to be a wake-up call – Conservative cuts are threatening the BC coast,” said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in a statement.
In addition to the proposal to reopen the Kitsilano base, the NDP will also be demanding the Conservatives to reverse their decisions on closing other B.C. Coast Guard facilities in Ucluelet and Comox.
Fin Donnelly, the NDP MP for New Westminster-Coquitlam, will introduce the following motion in the House of Commons on Monday:
“That, in the opinion of the House, the recent toxic bunker fuel spill in Vancouver Harbour represents an urgent reminder of the fragility of our coastal waters and, therefore, the government must reverse its cuts to marine safety, oil spill response, and environmental clean-up capacity in Vancouver and elsewhere on the coast of British Columbia by: (a) re-opening the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station; (b) re-opening the recently-closed Ucluelet Marine Communication and Traffic Service Centre; and (c) halting plans to close the Vancouver and Comox Marine Communication and Traffic Service Centres.”
It remains to be seen whether the motion will pass given that the Conservatives hold a majority in government. They have been adamant that the Kitsilano base closure was a necessary move to ‘reallocate resources’ – a decision that saved $700,000 in annual operational costs.
Both major opposition parties have reignited their support for the reopening of the Kitsilano base.
Earlier this month, federal Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau also vowed to reopen the Kitsilano Coast Guard base if his party is elected into office later this year.
“I used to live in this neighbourhood, and I know that any spills of this nature are of serious concern to British Columbians and all Canadians,” said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on April 10.
“Stephen Harper’s cuts to marine safety resources and the closure of Vancouver’s Kitsilano Coast Guard Base each undermine our ability to respond to spills like this. A new Liberal government will re-open a full-service Coast Guard station in Vancouver and re-invest in marine safety and oil spill response capacity on the BC coast.”