Kitsilano (Vancouver) Coast Guard Station Closure by Harper

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Kitsilano (Vancouver) Coast Guard Station Closure by Harper

Harper's closure of the $700,000 a year Kitsilano Coast Guard station which served the extremely busy downtown Vancouver harbour confirms everything you strongly suspected about his value system. The station was the busiest in Canada with about 350 calls a year.

Of course, even while the Cons preach restraint and implement budget cuts, they always have money for Stephen Harper's core values and the voters attracted to them. The Cons are closing the base as part of their budget cutbacks while continuing the $45.8 billion estimated cost of the F35 program according to the auditor-general. Furthermore, they did closed the base within a few days of announcing the opening of the $5 million a year Office of Religious Freedom. I guess those in danger of drowning off Vancouver are comforted by the fact someone may be saying a prayer for them at the Office.

The Cons also announced the closure on the same day the BC government brought down its budget in order to minimize media coverage. Even staff at the base only learned of the closure earlier in the day and then not through the federal government but via a shipping news website. Shortly after that they were ordered to remove any personal belongings their lockers and pack up. Rescue boats were immediately removed from the station. Vancouverites did not expect to close the base until later in the spring. 

"Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang noted no one at city hall, Vancouver Police Department or Vancouver Fire and Rescue received any warning that the base would be closing Tuesday. The city had also put forth a report that spoke against the base’s closure. “The entire city of Vancouver is in shock,” Jang said. “Shutting this base will cost lives. It will play roulette with people’s lives.”

Jericho Sailing general manager Mike Cotter has worked with Vancouver’s marine safety community for 25 years. He said what might be a three-minute rescue mission could now become a half-hour body recovery, since marine rescues at Canada’s busiest port must now rely on the Sea Island Coast Guard base in Richmond, some 17 nautical miles (31 kilometres) away.

“For 50 years, this station has saved lives off the southern coast of British Columbia. People will die as a result of this decision,” Cotter said of the sudden closure."




In just the brief two weeks since the closure we have had two close life-and-death calls.

"Critics of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station’s closure say the time it took for two men to be rescued from the frigid waters of the Strait of Georgia Wednesday morning could have been cut sharply had the station still been operating. The men dumped in the water when their 19-metre fishboat sank off Point Grey.

According to Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria, it took 21 minutes for the hovercraft to reach the men at 5:38 a.m. But the Coast Guard said later Wednesday that it took just 17 minutes for the hovercraft to reach the men.

Critics of the Kitsilano station closure said it would have taken 10 minutes to reach the men had the Kitsilano station been open.

The two men, who were wearing life jackets but not survival suits, were in the water between 20 and 30 minutes before being rescued.

Experts say that at that amount of time, they were not likely to die.

However, the boaters were still treated for hypothermia and taken to Vancouver General Hospital in stable condition, according to the B.C. Ambulance Service.

A survival chart posted on the American safety website says exhaustion and unconsciousness from hypothermia for a person wearing a life-jacket kicks in between 30 and 60 minutes when water is 40-50 F. The ocean temperature Wednesday was 44.6 F, or 7 C."


In a local "24 hours" free newspaper, I read about how the two local private water taxis are now expected to be part of future rescues to a much greater extent than ever in the past. While the owner of one of the water taxis says he would willingly help rescue anyone in trouble in the water as he has done in the past, he emphasized that the closure of the base would double or triple the time for the Coast Guard to arrive from the now closest station. Financially, this interrupts his water taxi business, but he said that he would try to do all he could for someone in trouble but that there is no way that he or his crew could ever match the skills of the Coast Guard and that the extra time now involved in a Coast Guard rescue could be the difference betweent the person surviving or not. He noted that he already had to be involved in one rescue where the Coast Guard did not arrive as fast as in the past. 

Harper has already generated enormous anger in Vancouver over this. If someone(s) die over this, Harper will hear the gun going off  in his game of Russian roulette with voters in Vancouver. 


The Cons claim that the Kitsilano Coast Guard station can be closed because there is another station in Richmond at Sea Island, even though it historically has had to deal with about 100 less rescues per year than Vancouver, is skirting the key problem. Having rescue boats come from the Richmond station means a doubling or tripling of rescues times for Vancouver harbour, thereby greatly increasing the risk of drownings. Not coincidentally, all three Richmond ridings have Con MPs while Vancouver has elected 2 NDPers, 2 Liberals and only 1 Con.

BCers historically have viewed themselves as isolated from Ottawa which is 5,000 km away. From their perspecitive, everyone on the other side of the Rockies is an easterner, including Albertan Steven Harper. We keep track of issues that increase this sense of isolation, just as Westerners did when the Mulroney government chose Quebec over Winnipeg for a large aviation contract. We just may let those easterners freeze in the dark over the Northern Gateway pipeline, as well as freeze out some Con BC MPs.


If someone(s) dies in a boating accident in the Vancouver Harbour region because the Coast Guard cannot reach them fast enough, the response will not be like that following each of the many disappearances of the sex workers in the Downtown Eastside or along the Highway of Tears in northern BC.

Why? Because to be a boat owner in what already is the most expensive city in which to reside in Canada means the odds are overwhelming that you are a member of at least the upper quarter of the middle class. Therefore, the resulting outcry will be deafening, just as it was when the body of the sister of the mayoral candidate, Peter Ladner, of the right-wing NPA muncipal party was found sexually assaulted and murdered in a wealthy part of the city. 

Even on minor issues their outcry can be deafening. A few years ago the city decided that it would no longer have its garbage collectors go onto the property of expensive properties in the richest neighbourhoods to pick up their garbage but have these property owners have to put their garbage at the curbside like everyone else. The indignation of the wealthy that their property taxes would not include this service was a topic of major media coverage while the coverage of the murder of sex workers and Aboriginal women was token by comparison.

Should a drowned boater (swimmers are protected by lifeguards who are municipal employees and not affected by cutbacks) not be among the elite I think the reaction will still be the same. Although I am not a boater, I know many of them. They will empathize with other boaters (unlike sex workers or Aboriginal people) in trouble because they understand one thing: when you are in trouble in the ocean, the ocean does not care how wealthy you are. They know it could well be one or more of them the next time. 


Tonight on the BC Legislature TV channel, the BC NDP MLA for Alberni-Pacific Rim on Vancouver Island, Scott Fraser, outlined more cuts that are to be to marine safety along the BC coast. The Cons are planning to close Marine Communications Centre at Comox on the east coast of Vancouver Island, which is involved in marine traffic control, as well as weather and distress call monitoring.  

They are also closing Coast Guard station on the west coast of the island off the area known for centuries as the Graveyard of the Pacific. These closures will leave two centres to serve the entire BC coast, according to Fraser. 

At the same time, the Cons are contributing a large portion of the funding for the $4 billion Asia Pacific Gateway Project, which will greatly expand the Vancouver and Prince Rupert port facilities and the roadways nearby, thereby greatly increasing marine traffic and the risk of accidents.

The closing of these stations will save peanuts compared to the cost of the Gateway Project. This tells you how much priority the Cons give to safety and human life.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Meanwhile, this tiny community of roughly 130 people has had a Coast Guard ship stationed at our wharf for two years now, but the crew are to cover a huge area. I'm not exactly sure the size of their coverage area. The ship is the CCGS Cap Perce.


Christy (surprise, surprise) has delivered an ultimatum to the Harper government: if the feds do not reopen the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, there will be no expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Can you say election time? Still its nice to see two right-wing governments fighting. Kind of strange Harper can now find $120 million for "tanker safety" but can't afford $750,000 a year for the Kits Coast Guard station. It tells you how much he values life.

"She made the comments Wednesday while responding to two federal announcements (found here and here) made this week aimed at calming British Columbians’ fears about new oil pipeline projects from Alberta to the B.C. coast, and discussing her five criteria for supporting any of them.

“If they’re closing down Coast Guard stations at the same time that they’re saying they want to improve our Coast Guard capacity, the two just don’t make sense beside each other,” Clark said.

“It sounds to a lot of people like what they’re saying is different from what they’re doing and that poses a real problem for the expansion of heavy oil in British Columbia.”

On Monday in Vancouver, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced $120 million in new funding over five years for “world-class” tanker safety investments."

It also puts Haper in an awkward position - don't fund the station and continue to get questions about why not when so much more is proposed for tanker safety or do fund it and get asked why it was cut in the first place.





CBC Vancouver TV showed the closed down Kitsilano station rusting away with the Coast Guard boat that was meant to deal with such spills in drydock and of course no one available to respond. 


B.C. Premier Christy Clark has blasted the federal government's response to Wednesday's oil spill in Vancouver's English Bay, saying it may be time to hand over responsibility to the province.

Speaking from her office in Vancouver, Clark said the six-hour delay in placing booms around the leaking tanker and the 12-hour delay notifying the city showed a shortage of "good judgment" and "nimbleness." ...

Both the federal and provincial efforts were also criticized earlier Friday by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who called the efforts "totally inadequate."

 'Somebody needs to do a better job of protecting the coast, and the coast guard has not done it,' says B.C. Premier Christy Clark. (CBC)

 Robertson blamed the federal and provincial governments for a lack of leadership in responding to the spill — now identified as toxic bunker fuel — saying he had several significant questions about the level of co-ordination.

"The citizens of Vancouver are very frustrated. We don't know what the total impact will be on our environment. We don't know how much of that toxic substance sunk to the bottom and will be a long-term hazard in our waters," said Robertson.






The closing of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station by the Cons two years ago has come back to bite them with the English Bay oil spill. The public outrage can be seen in the Twitter comments at the end of the following article.


Politicians were out in force today condemning the response to the oil spill in English Bay. Many blamed the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station for what's seen as an inadequate reaction. Mayor Gregor Robertson criticized the provincial and federal governments, while federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Vancouver-Centre MP Hedy Fry weighed in on social media and promised a Liberal government would re-open the coast guard station. Vancouver residents, meanwhile, shared their outrage on Twitter and offered help with the cleanup.




Con Industry Minister James Moore, a Metro Vancouverite, tried to reassure the public that the federal response was adequate. Unfortunately, for him, no one else does. Comments like this are only making their well-deserved hole deeper for them. 

Furthermore, this relatively small spill shows how overwhelmingly inadequate our preparations are for an oil tanker major accident or pipeline spill.


But federal Industry Minister James Moore told reporters that it was irresponsible for people to dial up anxiety and form broad conclusions about the coast guard’s work, without knowing the facts.

READ NOW: Number of spills in B.C. waters increased in last 2 years

Moore says Canada has one of the best clean up regimes in the world and he points out that 80 per cent of fuel was cleaned up in 36 hours, something he called very impressive.

About 27-hundred litres of fuel leaked from a grain-carrying ship starting on Wednesday night.




Here's a sample of the many more Twitter comments showing how concerned people are about this in Vancouver. (The Douglas Channel referred to below is the outlet to the ocean for the Northern Gateway pipeline that runs through a narrow channel containing roughly 100 islets where tankers could run aground on). 


Tell me again how we'll get tankers through the Douglas channel safely when we can't even prevent a spill in burrard inlet. #VanFuelSpill ...

This spill off the coast should open your eyes. No beaches, no fun. Panels, not pipelines. #bcpoli #VanFuelSpill ...

Another reason we don't need vessels carrying oil as their main purpose in our water ways #VanFuelSpill #NoPipelines

So much for the Harper/Christy Clark "world class oil spill response" for the increased number of pipelines and tanker traffic.



Thanks for the information. Of course I heard of the oil spill (yet another...) but I appreciate the backstory about the government's funding cuts to needed safety infrastructure in your area. Is there more at the Tyee?


lagatta wrote:

Thanks for the information. Of course I heard of the oil spill (yet another...) but I appreciate the backstory about the government's funding cuts to needed safety infrastructure in your area. Is there more at the Tyee?


Here's an article on the spill from the Tyee.


Vancouver just got a small whiff of what a sevenfold increase in tanker traffic could mean for a place aspiring to be the world's greenest city. On a calm afternoon in English Bay this week, a grain freighter at anchor apparently started leaking bunker fuel into the scenic waters off Stanley Park.

Local residents and their municipal government were not informed for 13 hours. The Coast Guard was ostensibly in charge of the cleanup, but its private sector partners at West Coast Marine Response Corporation took six hours to start skimming the oil and nine hours to put a boom around the leaking vessel.

Making matters worse was the apparently invisible response from the federal government. While the Vancouver Aquarium staff and police boats were doing what they could to pitch in, where were Transport Canada and Environment Canada?

Years of federal downsizing and program cuts have come home to roost. The Environment Canada Environmental Emergencies office in Vancouver was closed by the federal government in 2012 and moved to Montreal. Sixty staff nationwide specifically trained to deal with oil spills lost their jobs.

The Harper government also mothballed the Kitsilano Coast Guard station in 2013 that used to be one of the busiest in the country. This life-threatening decision to local mariners saved Ottawa the whopping sum of $700,000 per year. Coast Guard officials gamely maintained that the closure had no impact on their reaction to the spill. However, a former commander at the station told a local radio station that had the station been operating, the response time would have been six minutes instead of six hours.

Meanwhile, Ottawa is cheerleading virtually every pipeline proposal in the country while gutting the National Energy Board to the point that citizens are now suing Ottawa for denying them due process in public hearings.

The bunker fuel now fouling the shores of English Bay is the barely refined dregs of crude oil and highly toxic. While officials maintain that almost all the oil has been recovered, the fact is that even a successful oil spill cleanup oftenrecovers only about 15 per cent of what is spilled. Two days later and we still don't know what exactly was in the oil, so residents and volunteers are being told to stay away from their beloved beaches, even to try to clean them. ...

Obviously, a larger spill would have catastrophic consequences for one of the most iconically beautiful cities in the world. Visitors from around the world are drawn to Vancouver's magnificent waterfront,injecting some $4 billion into local businesses each year.

While bunker fuel is bad, diluted bitumen is far worse. Kinder Morgan wants to massively scale up tanker shipments through Vancouver of this hazardous mixture of volatile solvents and tar from Alberta's oilsands. A major difference is that bunker fuel floats, and bitumen typically doesn't. ...

This brings us to the second scary difference between bunker fuel and diluted bitumen. More than two-thirds of residents near the Kalamazoo spill began experiencing headaches, nausea, and dizziness after inhaling the toxic fumes from volatile solvents used to thin the thick tar so it can be pumped through a pipeline. Local health authorities declared a voluntary evacuation zone for people within a mile of the spill. What would be the public health implications of a diluted bitumen spill in the Lower Mainland, home to more than two million people? ...

While pipeline projects are portrayed as an economic imperative, an oil spill would be economically disastrous if it closed Canada's busiest port for a protracted cleanup. Parts of the Kalamazoo River remained closed three years after the Enbridge spill as crews dredged the sunken tar from the river bottom.

Anyone who still thinks that bitumen tankers pose no risk to our coast, or that Ottawa sincerely cares deeply about protecting our environment should go down to English Bay and inhale deeply. That could be the smell of our oily future.





Here's another article from the Tyee on the issue.


Environment Canada warns on its website that bunker fuel presents "a high hazard to human health" and poses a risk of "inherent toxicity to aquatic organisms" including bioaccumulation, the process by which toxic compounds are concentrated up the food chain.

The fuel is the same type of hydrocarbon that raised alarm last October, when a Russian ship loaded with 400 tonnes of bunker fuel lost power and drifted within nine kilometres of Haida Gwaii. It was later rescued by private and Coast Guard vessels.

For Dana Miller, a researcher at the University of British Columbia's Fisheries Economics Research Unit, the spill "gives us an idea of how much damage could be caused" if oil tankers were involved. The number of such tankers in Burrard Inlet is expect to increase seven-fold if Kinder Morgan's TransMountain pipeline is approved.

"If one of those vessels were involved in a spill, there's a much, much greater risk than this," Miller said in a phone interview.

But she cautioned that a larger issue is shipping companies, which might be attempting to skirt international safety regulations.

Despite being owned by a company in one country, ships plying international waters can register as being based in a different country. It's a legal manoeuvre known as flying a "flag of convenience," and is permitted if proper paperwork and regulations are followed.  ...

Flag-flying to reduce costs

Some shipping companies fly flags of convenience to reduce the taxes they pay, as some flag-offering countries are also tax havens. Countries also vary in their degrees of regulatory red tape, labour laws and the speed of processing applications. ...


The following article points out that the government response had fallen far short of the "world class standards' promised by Harper and Christy


University of Victoria professor Chris Tollefson, executive director of the environmental law centre, agreed the response had fallen far short of world-class standards.

“No one could claim that comes even close to a proper and adequate response. And the reality is this is a spill that should have been easy to deal with in a short space of time. ... Most spills occur in much more remote and difficult waters and difficult conditions.

“If we can’t respond to a run-of-the-mill spill like this ... then I think that really speaks volumes about how prepared we are.”


 Tollefson goes on to emphasize that the cumulative of many relatively small spills can be extremely damaging and a scientific study shows that this is at least as serious problem on the East Coast. 


Tollefson added that the English Bay spill should raise awareness about the environmental cost of frequent smaller spills in B.C. and around the globe.

“We’ve been focused on catastrophic spills, where a tanker’s cargo discharges,” he said. “But, globally, it’s clear that chronic, smaller spills — often from bilges or bunker breaches — are often the larger and more significant environmental hazard. Many go undetected initially and the cumulative impact is huge.”

A 2006 study published in Marine Ornithology reported that 62 per cent of beached bird carcasses in Newfoundland and Labrador were oiled, compared with 56 per cent on the west coast of Vancouver Island. A 2010 study in Marine Pollution Bulletin found that even thin sheens of oil and drilling fluids — legally discharged from offshore oil facilities on the east coast — can affect the ability of seabirds’ feathers to maintain warmth.

Tollefson said that during National Energy Board hearings into Kinder Morgan’s planned twinning of its pipeline from Alberta, he sought unsuccessfully to have the company study the increased risks of chronic spills that may result from increased oil tanker traffic.

Despite the claim by federal Con Industry Minsiter James Moore and his Coast Gurard senior managers that the Coast Guards's response, despite the closing of the KItsilano Coast Guard Statioh, was fast and effective in allegedly cleaning up 80% of the spill, people are not buying this. That's because such cleanups ususlly only get 10 to 15% of the spill even with a fast response. 


The Canadian Coast Guard’s claim that Western Canada Marine Response Corp. recovered about 80 per cent of an estimated 2,700 litres of bunker oil spilled is also drawing criticism. Western Canada Marine refused to comment on Friday.

“Be very skeptical,” said Karen Wristen, executive director of the Living Oceans Society. “Everybody’s interest is to minimize the amount spilled and maximize the amount recovered and I’m not buying any of it until the dust has settled.”

The coast guard did not immediately respond to the criticism.

According to the London-based International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, even in ideal conditions in oceans around the world, only 10 to 15 per cent of oil is likely to be recovered.

On Dec. 23, 1988, the Sause Brothers barge Nestucca released about 874,000 litres of bunker oil off Grays Harbor, Wash. The oil drifted north with the currents, including up to the west coast of Vancouver Island as far as Cape Scott. The oil washed up on beaches, and up to 56,000 seabirds are thought to have died. Crab, shellfish and herring were affected along with First Nations fishing practices. Washington and B.C. cleaned up an estimated 11 per cent of the oil.



Oil spill, schmoil spill. Don't you know we're in a war on terror??


Even the right-wing Vancouver Sun admits that this spill and its aftermath is likely to major political ramifications in the upcoming federal election in BC.

Despite Con Industry Minister's claim that 80% of the spill has been cleaned up thanks to its fast response, no one is buying this as discussed in the post #16. The Cons usually technique of deny, deny, deny the problem is not working because the evidence to the contrary is so visible. This reminds me of what happened to Bush and New York Mayor Guiliani. Despite Bush ignoring the large body of evidence that a major Al Quaeda attack was imminent, he got overwhelming support when he looked like he was dealing with the problem. The same happened with Guiliani, despite the fact that for years he had refused to fund replacements for the very outdated communications equipment that resulted in more than 200 firefighters being recalled from the about to collapse World Trade Towers because their communications equipment was useless. He was praised, despite his failure to deal with this and other problems earlier, because he appeared to be taking charge when the attack occurred.

On the other hand, the number one issue leading to Bush's growing unpopularity was his indifference and denials of the Katrina Hurricane devastation of New Orleans. When the problem is blatantly obvious to the publc and you continue in denial mode, like Moore, watch out. This is especially true with security problems. Unfortunately, Cons define security only in military terms. However, while the public generally follows the same thought pattern, when their security is threatened by other problems, such as hurricanes or catastrophic environmental disasters, they expect the government to carry out its number one task - achieving public security. Denial does not work under these conditions and, IMO, the Cons will play a significant price, both in Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and along the Coast. 

It is interesting that the main thrust of the federal Liberal response is how they could use this problem to benefit them in the upcoming election (see Joyce Murray's comments below on potential Liberal gains, which unlike the NDP's Kennedy Stewarts' or the Green's respsonse in the article, don't focus on the issue) rather than deal with the issue at hand, something very familar to us in Liberal posters on this site for nearly all issues. 


The political fallout from Wednesday's English Bay oil spill may prove as hard to contain as the toxic fuel that outpaced and eluded Canada’s sluggish cleanup response.

The political finger pointing was fierce Friday as Premier Christy Clark criticized the federal government for its “totally inadequate” response and opposition MPs hammered Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives for federal cuts they say undermine the ability to deal with spills on the west coast.

The stakes are high. The Harper Government has been busy touting Canada’s oil response capabilities as “world class” while aligning itself with major pipeline projects that would see supertankers filled with oil become regular fixtures in English Bay, Burrard Inlet and northern coastal waters.

The spill comes in an election year, and experts say it could harden resistance to Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and damage the Conservatives in some south coast ridings. ...

Clark said in a Friday news conference she had contacted the prime minister’s office to demand changes. “Somebody needs to do a better job of protecting this coast, and the coast guard hasn’t done it,” she said. “It is totally unacceptable that we don’t have the spill response that we require here and the federal government needs to step up.”

Opposition MPs took aim at Tories they say will be punished in the scheduled October election for keeping silent over federal cuts to West Coast marine safety and the closure of the Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard station in 2013.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said Harper’s cuts undermined the spill response.

“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,” Trudeau, a former teacher at the West Point Grey Academy, said in a statement.

New Democratic Party MP Kennedy Stewart said problems managing a relatively minor spill underscore concerns about Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion and raises doubts about the federal government’s long-standing pledge to create a “world class” tanker safety system. “When the public health authorities are saying ‘don’t touch this stuff because it’s toxic, don’t go to the beaches,’ it’s a wake-up call for folks here,” said Stewart, the MP for Burnaby Douglas. “If you want to become a major industrial oil export port like Rotterdam, you’re not going to be able to enjoy your beaches, and that’s a choice the region is going to have to make.”

Industry Minister James Moore said Friday afternoon that 80 per cent of the spill was contained and cleaned up within 36 hours. “I think that’s very impressive.” ...

The oil spill could lead some wavering Lower Mainland voters to back Liberal, NDP or Green candidates, Harrison said, but it may not overturn any strong Conservative ridings.

“The polling has indicated for a few years now that the thing British Columbians are most concerned about when it comes to these pipelines is tankers on the coast, and I think for many British Columbians what happened in Vancouver was a wake-up call,” she said.

Liberal MP Joyce Murray, representing Vancouver Quadra in Ottawa said Lower Mainland Tory MPs like Industry Minister James Moore (Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam), Minister of State (seniors) Alice Wong (Richmond), John Weston (West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country) and Andrew Saxton (North Vancouver) will be targeted for not speaking out against the cuts. She cited Transport Canada documents indicating that marine safety spending went from $82 million in 2009-10 to $57.5 million in 2015-16. ...

Mayor Gregor Robertson said he cut a vacation short to return to Vancouver after he heard about the spill. He said when he asked Moore why it took so long for the Coast Guard to launch a response to the spill and then notify the city, Moore “reflected back to me having some of those same questions.”

“But that’s not good enough when we’re in the middle of an oil spill.”

He said residents and volunteer corps are on hand to help, but city staff need direction from the provincial and federal ministries of environment “to notify us, first of all, what the substance is and how toxic it is” before launching any cleanup of local beaches.

“They are responsible for this (and) at this point, we don’t seem to have any clear guidance on our next step,” Robertson said.


Sean in Ottawa

Those saying that the Green vote is too high in polls might be wrong. There are some people in BC looking at this story who might vote Green as a comment on environmental policy and protection.

This is not an endorsement -- just an observation.


See the impact on Vancouver's marine wildlife after the English Bay oil spill


After Liberal BC Premier Christy Clark harshly criticized the federal government over the spill, the response of Liberal BC Environment Minister, Mary Polak, is revealing about how little effort it is willing to put into cleanup, pipeline and tanker issues, rather than the politics of the issue. 


here you have it.

World class, indeed.

Interestingly, on Twittmachine thread Ms. Polak (and/or wizard and/or intern) then berates citizens for being upset with 'water v. land' dichotomy as a defense for non-action.

Rumour has it that Ms. Clark herself will drag herself away from her springiest of spring breaks to speak to the people @ 10:30am this morning. ...

North Van's Grumps said...

Environment Minister Mary Polak does have the means to deal with Marine Oil spills instead of just waiting for Ottawa to wake up.

Emergency Management British Columbia

Eg. One of Seven results 2013: BRITISH COLUMBIA MARINE OIL SPILL RESPONSE PLAN 2013: BRITISH COLUMBIA MARINE OIL SPILL RESPONSE PLAN Mission:Exemplary Environmental Emergency Management through Leadership, Organization, Team Work, and Shared Responsibility




Helicopter activity over Sandy Cove.


I hope it helps prevent pipelines from going through BC to the coast.


Moore won 56% to 30% in 2011.

I really hope Sara Norman can put him out of his misery in 2015.

Who is she anyways as she needs to be jumping all over this now? 


What a shame - Vancouver parks and beaches used to be its pride and joy. Now it's wall to wall freighters and you can't even swim in the water any more. And it's getting to be same in the Gulf Islands. 

Vancouver residents fear for future of waterways


New headaches for tar sands pipeline proponents as oil fouls Vancouver harbour


The consequences of this oil spill and future ones are economic, as well as environmental: 


Rashid Sumalia, director and professor with the fisheries economic research unit at the University of British Columbia, says the spill will not only impact marine life, but also food security and jobs related to fishing and tourism.

"Tourism is a lot about perception, so once people start to think that our waters are polluted with toxic oil, that can really affect [the tourism industry]," he said. "The consequences of that can be long because perceptions can hang on for a long time."

Sumalia says it could be a while before the full economic and environmental impacts are felt. Bunker fuel is very difficult to clean up, and some of it is bound to be left behind in the waters, he said.

He points to a 2007 spill in San Francisco Bay, where 58,000 gallons (220,000 litres) of bunker fuel leaked from a container ship that had rammed into a bridge.

That spill affected many fish embryo, Sumalia said. It was also reported that the slick killed 6,800 birds and thousands more fish.




In less than 24 hours, there have been 2,443 comments, and counting, on the CBC website concerning Con Industry Minister James Moore's statement that it is


"highly inappropriate for politicians to point fingers and make political jabs" before all the facts are known.

This kind of defence of the government actions is backfiring bigtime, providing further support to the article in post # 18 that this will cause the Cons significant damage in this year's election. The overwhelming majority of these comments attack Moore and the Cons for the closing of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, the failure to deal with the oil spill, and/or the whining response to their failure to deal with the problem. The comments can be seen at the bottom of the website article:





Kinder Morgan-owned company called in to clean up oil spill in English Bay


As North Report points out, not only does Kinder Morgan own part of the clean up company for the oil spill but "4 major oil companies (Imperial Oil, Shell Canada, Chevron and Suncor) and Trans Mountain pipelines" are in the business too.


Nice work if you get it. If you create an oil spill - no problem - you can make a profit on that to. This is truly focusing on what is most important to oneself. What more could one ask for? 


Vancouver oil spill removed from water, coast guard says (

Assistant commissioner Roger Girouard says flight showed only about 6 litres left in English Bay

<a href="">Robert-Mac</a> wrote:
This article makes no sense. Only 6 litres left in English Bay? Only 6 litres of a total of 2,700 litres spilt? How could they have recovered all 2,700 litres except for 6 litres. This makes no sense since in most spills about 80% is never recovered. Send your reporter out to clarify what you are reporting.


And with companies like  Kinder Morgan  and "4 major oil companies (Imperial Oil, Shell Canada, Chevron and Suncor) and Trans Mountain pipelines" doing this and other oil spill cleanups the Cons not only pay off their fossil fuel friends, they have a much more reliable ally in proclaiming that everything is cleaned up and an A+ Okay than Coast Guard public employees, while these fossil fuel friends make money in the process of both making and cleaning up the spill.


Send a message to the Cons by signing the petition to Protect Vancouver Against Oil Spills at



Thanks Jerry. There is also a twitter tag: #VanFuelSpill I found that while looking at Tantoo Cardinal's twitter account, on the climate march in Québec.

She also retweeted this, which I found wonderful (Black humour, quite literally):

Tantoo Cardinal a Retweeté Miranda Nelson @charenton_  ·  9 avr.

"Oil escaped into English Bay." No. It spilled. It didn't magically break free of the tyranny of its tanker master #VanFuelSpill

Just another example of the mendacious reporting about this disgusting and predictable event.


mmphosis wrote:

Vancouver oil spill removed from water, coast guard says (

Assistant commissioner Roger Girouard says flight showed only about 6 litres left in English Bay

<a href="">Robert-Mac</a> wrote:
This article makes no sense. Only 6 litres left in English Bay? Only 6 litres of a total of 2,700 litres spilt? How could they have recovered all 2,700 litres except for 6 litres. This makes no sense since in most spills about 80% is never recovered. Send your reporter out to clarify what you are reporting.


This is not supposed to make sense. This is simply Con damage control through their typical practice of denial by lying. 


The Canadian Coast Guard’s claim that Western Canada Marine Response Corp. recovered about 80 per cent of an estimated 2,700 litres of bunker oil spilled is also drawing criticism. Western Canada Marine refused to comment on Friday.

“Be very skeptical,” said Karen Wristen, executive director of the Living Oceans Society. “Everybody’s interest is to minimize the amount spilled and maximize the amount recovered and I’m not buying any of it until the dust has settled.”

The coast guard did not immediately respond to the criticism.

According to the London-based International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, even in ideal conditions in oceans around the world, only 10 to 15 per cent of oil is likely to be recovered.


The supposed 6 litres remaining in the water out of 2700 litres represents 0.2% of the spill. The Coast Guard official said this because he was told to say this - a similar pattern to what the Cons did when they closed the Kitsilano Coast Guard station.


Coast Guard employees have been warned against publicly criticizing the closing of the Kitsilano base, but retiring officer Gerry Moores says he has nothing to lose.

(Con Industry Minister James)Moores spoke out about the pending closure to CTV News Friday, his last day on the job after 36 years of service.

“Now I can come out with a vengeance. It’s the time the story be told,” he said.

Same old story.



The Harper government has made dramatic cuts in spending on aviation, marine and rail transport safety over the past five years, even as it was touting new safety measures in the transportation sector.

The latest figures from the federal government’s public accounts show actual spending by Transport Canada on marine safety has plunged 27% since 2009-10, while aviation and rail safety spending are both down 20% or more.

Time for an oceanic Lac Megantic!


Former Commander of Kitsilano Coast Guard base speaks out ( Friday, April 10 [VIDEO]

FYI: before you get to watch the video there is an advertisement, and when I watched the video, the ad was for enbridge


Vancouver oil spill: Coast Guard calls cleanup response 'exceptional' ( Sunday, April 12

<a href="">seanworth</a> wrote:
A very much toned down conferance from yesterday's release which went down like a lead balloon . Most of this damage control is not environmental though, but due to another blow to the conservative brand in bc for the upcoming election, never mind another nail in the coffin in building any pipelines. Guess that kitts station looks pretty cheap right now.


Public relations campaign heats up over English Bay oil spill in Vancouver



This is where recreational water activities take place - do you want to children playing in this kind of environment now?

Oil spill debris found near Iron Workers Second Narrows Bridge


this morning's news stated the canadian government tried to keep reporters out of the conservationists who are saving the birds, offices and tried to make them keep their mouths shut.

are canadians really going to stand for these fascist actions?


What would be the environmental and economic impact if the BC coast had an oil tanker major spill rather than this relatively minor one? The Exxon Valdez disaster gives us a clue. Remember the monetary amounts are in 1990s dollars, which would be equivalent to much more today. As the article points out the Exxon Valdez was only the 34th largest oil spill in history.



The impact of an oil spill lasts for decades. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez crashed onto the shore of Prince William Sound in Alaska, contaminating 1,300 miles of coastline with 250,000 barrels (11 million gallons) of oil.The tourism industry immediately lost over 26,000 jobs and more than $2.4 billion in sales. By 2003, it still hadn't recovered completely.

Direct contact with the oil slick killed at least 140 bald eagles, 302 harbor seals, 2800 sea otters and 250,00 seabirds within a few days. Four people died as part of the clean-up efforts.

Even though it was only the 34th worst oil spill in history, its impact on the Alaskan shoreline made it the nation's biggest environmental disaster since Three Mile Island.  ...

Economic Impact of Wildlife Loss:

Wildlife value is measured by the cost to obtain or rehabilitate them. For example, zoos pay as much as $50,000 dollars to capture an otter. The cost of losing 2,800 of these endangered species is $140 million. Exxon paid between $40,000-$90,000 to rehabilitate them, confirming the otter's value. Harbor seals go for $20,000, so losing 302 costs $604,000. Most sea birds cost $300 each, so losing 250,000 costs $75 million. Eagles cost $22,000 to rehabilitate, so 140 are worth $3 million. Total cost for just these four species in the first week was $218.6 million. ...

Economic Impact of Exxon Oil Spill:

Fisheries for salmon, herring, crab, shrimp, rockfish and sablefish were closed, with some Shrimp and salmon commercial fisheries remaining closed through 1990. Herring and salmon species never fully recovered, which means the commercial fishing industry that depends on them haven't either. Over 2,000 Alaskan Native Americans and 13,000 other subsistence permit holders lost the source of their food. This continues today, as many are afraid of being poisoned by contaminated fish.

The tourism industry immediately lost over 26,000 jobs and more than $2.4 billion in sales. By 2003, it had recovered somewhat. Passive use cost the state $2.8 billion, and it too has never fully recovered since vacationers still think of the area as contaminated. (Source: NOAA)

Now, 20 years after the spill, about 20 acres of Prince William Sound shoreline are still contaminated with oil. Two species have never come back, ten species haven't quite come back, and five are unknown. Until all species recover, the economy that depends upon them cannot fully recover, either.

Economic Impact to Exxon: Exxon spent over $3.8 billion to clean up the site, compensate the 11,000 residents and pay fines. However, it could have been $4.5 billion more. The Alaskan court ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion in punitive damages in 1994. After 14 years of lawsuits and appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Exxon only owed $507.5 million - about 12 hours of revenue for the giant oil company.



Thanks mmphosis. For anyone who doesn't have a video connection or can't abide watching an Enbridge commercial, here is part of what Fred Moxey, the retired Coast Guard commander, who started at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station 35 years ago,  part of what had to say. 


English Bay Oil Spill...And Just What Would Have Been Different If The Coast Guard Base Was Still There?HowMuchDoesItCostToDestroyAPublicWaterwayAnyway
SevenHundredThousandPerYearVille ...

The response itself likely would have been much, much more effective from the get-go as noted by the former Kits Coast Guard commander who, as Laila noted in her excellent post late last night, called in to the Simi Sara show on NW yesterday afternoon:

” …former Kits base commander Fred Moxey, who told us that a special pollution response boat formerly stationed at the now shuttered Kitsilano Coast Guard base is sitting empty with no crew at Sea Island base in Richmond. According to Moxey, only a rubber boat from the Coast Guard responded to the English Bay oil spill last night. Moxey also told us the Osprey formerly stationed at Kits was dismantled and sold off then when the base was closed. Moxey says if Kits Base was still active today crews would have been on scene at the spill in six minutes with the equipment to deal with the situation...”


NDP MP Don Davies has demanded the reopening of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station.


NDP MP demands Kitsilano coast guard station be re-opened after an accident in English Bay over the weekend

Global News : Tuesday, March 05, 2013 12:00 AM


The federal NDP is demanding the Kitsilano coast guard station be re-opened after an accident in English Bay over the weekend.

On Saturday, a sailboat broke loose from its moorings and ran aground off Spanish Banks.

Don Davies, the NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway, told the House of Commons the accident was a “close call.”

He says it took way too long for help to arrive.

Davies says Sea Island took 31 minutes instead of 11 minutes, and would have been at least an hour if the accident had taken place in Burrard inlet.

The MP says the situation will get worse in the summer with more marine traffic and families on vacation.

The federal government shut down the coast guard base nearly two weeks ago, and has already begun to dismantle the facility.


However, the NDP needs to take it up a notch and have Mulcair make a pledge that he will reopen the station if elected, as Trudeau has already done. It would show that he gets West Coast needs. This has broad spectrum support as everyone from environmentalists to those in the tourist and fishing industries, to First Nations, to those who can afford yachts, to those who can only afford to go to a free public oceanside beach want.




The following article shows how the English Bay oil spill already has had a severe economic impact on the fishery of First Nations and others.


Musqueam First Nation Concerned About Spill Response and Shuts Down Fishery

COAST SALISH TERRITORY, VANCOUVER, BC, April 10, 2015 /CNW/ - The Musqueam First Nation is issuing a public notice to its fishers that the Musqueam Fisheries Department is closing all aquatic harvesting in the English Bay,  .... and.... areas until further notice. This includes the removal of prawn, crab and .... Due to the bunker oil  spilled in English Bay Musqueam is asking its members to take all precautions, including reporting any related oil that may be in the waters or onshore.

Chief Wayne Sparrow said, "....We are very concerned about how long it took to notify officials and Musqueam about the spill in English Bay.

Musqueam is working with the Major Projects Management Office West to develop a long term Aquatic Habitat Restoration Plan, as well as creating a First Nations focused Stewardship Centre. This recent incident in English Bay highlights the need to improve relationships between Musqueam, Coast Guard, Port Metro Vancouver and the City of Vancouver. We must put the environment and our waters at the forefront, Musqueam has the knowledge and expertise in our waters.




James Moore - The Royal Harper Court's Fool:



The BC Oil Spill and the Con Clown James Moore 

It couldn't have been a more monstrous or absurd sight.

A day after a ship leaked about 3,000 litres of bulk oil into Vancouver's beautiful English Bay, 

And a few hours after the province's premier and the city's mayor blasted the slow federal response.

The monstrous Con beluga James Moore broke through the oily sheen to spout off at his critics. 

Federal Industry Minister James Moore hit back at criticism of the Canadian Coast Guard's handling of the Vancouver oil spill, saying that it is "highly inappropriate for politicians to point fingers and make political jabs" before all the facts are known.

And if you can believe it, accuse them of fear mongering.

"The public expects serious issues to be handled in a serious tone," Moore said. "I think it is irresponsible for people to dial up anxiety and fear." 

When in fact the response was incredibly slow, if the ship had been carrying dilbits or the weather had been worse, it would have been even more of a disaster.

And if Harper regime hadn't closed the nearby Kitsilano Coast Guard station the response would have been much much faster.

But then what can we expect from the Cons? When Moore defended the closing of the station three years ago while claiming that Vancouver would have "the best coastal safety in the whole of Canada."



Conservative government cut back Environment Canada's capacity to respond to oil spills


mmphosis wrote:

<a href="">Robert-Mac</a> wrote:
This article makes no sense. Only 6 litres left in English Bay? Only 6 litres of a total of 2,700 litres spilt? How could they have recovered all 2,700 litres except for 6 litres.

It makes no sense because how could they measure "6 litres" of remaining oil, eyeballing it from a plane? How would you even see 6 litres of oil? And if you can see it, and it's that small a quantity, why not scoop it up and call it zero? It sounds so stupidly, blatantly false.


The executive director of Tanker Free B.C. , Ben West, states that the oil spill in English Bay is a warning about what increased tanker traffic will do off the BC coast.


West went on to mention the proposed expansion by Kinder Morgan of its Trans Mountain pipeline between Strathcona County, near Edmonton, Alberta, and Burnaby in B.C.

The project would twin the pipeline, increasing its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

The $5.4-billion expansion also includes 20 new tanks to be added to the storage terminals in Burnaby and Sumas in B.C., and in Edmonton.

The Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby would be upgraded with three new berths.

West said: “Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline and tanker project would see an increase from the current 80 tankers a year to over 400 tankers a year carrying primarily tar sands bitumen which is more likely to sink in the marine environment potentially causing significant harm.”




epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..txs jerrym


Here's a demonstration by the Cons of "world class" oil spill clean up done in Vancouver two years ago.


And when the Cons staged a photo-op two years ago to promote their so-called tanker safety program.

The oil recovery vessel ran aground.

An oil spill recovery vessel ran aground en route to a federal announcement on oil tanker safety in Vancouver on Monday, officials have confirmed. 

The vessel was making a 12-hour trip from its base in Esquimalt to Vancouver for a tanker safety announcement by Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver when it struck an uncharted sandbar near Sandheads at the mouth of the Fraser River near Steveston.

Leaving the hapless Joe Oliver standing on the dock looking as stupid or criminally irresponsible as Moore looked today...


And the good news?

If there is anybody in beautiful British Columbia who still thinks that Northern Gateway wouldn't be a disaster, they clearly need to be watered not fed.

It is a wake-up call. 

Joe Spears calls it a wake-up call. An international shipping expert, Spears says Canada is supposed to be a world leader at dealing with maritime emergencies. But he says the response to an oil spill into Vancouver's English Bay on Thursday was anything but world class.

And this is the lesson:

A Con is a Con is a Con artist.

And you can't trust the Bitumen Boys as far as you can spit...