BC's incoming government must act swiftly
The outer islands of the BC’s coast have such a different character than islands more protected from the violent beatings of the ocean and the wind. Campania Island could have been taken from tropics and dropped into the north Pacific, with its fine white sand, and clear turquoise-jade water. The similarities stop there, though.
Rather than palm trees, there are scrubby pines, hemlock and cedars. Campania’s white sand beach is also known as Wolf Track beach – elusive coastal wolves leave hints of their presence in the sand. In the clear waters, you can see salmon following schools of needlefish. Only a handful of small boats fishing for salmon or halibut can be seen on the horizon; otherwise, it’s open ocean - for now at least.
Massive tankers would round Campania on their way to and from Kitimat, the port where industrial activity is on the brink of explosion. The city in northwestern BC is the proposed terminal for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, and for and three liquefied natural gas plants.
Tankers would navigate their way through the intricate maze of islands, including an S-curve. Imagine the windiest road you’ve ever driven with hairpin turns. Now imagine a vessel the size of three football fields, maintaining a minimum speed of 12 knots, doing that turn – talk about threading the needle. High winds and resulting enormous waves are not uncommon in these waters, and these giant ships need significant space to stop. There is no margin for error.
Exxon Valdez, Queen of the North…we know all too well accidents do happen.
Those who have seen the proposed route ask, “What’s the alternative? Is there a different route the tankers can take?”
I would challenge us to take another step back and ask why do we need to ship oil and gas to Asia? How are we transitioning off fossil fuels if companies are still invested in capital-intensive infrastructure, like oil and gas pipelines that will require decades to pay off?
For most people who have allowed the magnificence of BC’s Great Bear Rainforest to seep under their skin and into their blood, their reaction to the mention of tankers on the coast is immediately, “Oh, no, you can’t have tankers here. No way.”