Mike Davies: Project benefits include support for marine jobs and research

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Mike Davies, Senior Director of Marine Development, talks about the broad range of marine benefits coming with the Trans Mountain Expansion Project

Trans Mountain’s commitment to the sustainability of the marine environment takes many forms. We’re proud of our marine safety record — we’ve been loading vessels at Westridge Marine Terminal since 1956 without a single spill from tanker operations. We were a founding member of the first and only oil spill response organization on Canada’s Pacific coast, now called Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC).

We began establishing the groundwork for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in 2012. Today, the Trans Mountain Expansion Project includes significant measures to protect the marine environment — as well as wide-ranging commitments and actions that deliver lasting, positive benefits to marine communities.

Already, we have supported the development of a transition to an enhanced escort system moving laden tankers safely through local waters and lowering the risk of a spill despite an overall increase in the number of ships. This creates more jobs for local ship pilots and tugboat crews. For many people living along the south coast, that will be a significant benefit of the Project.

There are many other benefits worth noting, dispersed among many marine-linked sectors and communities.

Expansion Project spending includes $750 million worth of upgrades to Burnaby Terminal and Westridge Marine Terminal and about 700 construction jobs. The Project leads to 50 new permanent jobs at Burnaby Terminal and Westridge. Over the long term, an expanded Trans Mountain system creates 1,300 new full-time marine sector jobs. Each tanker calling at Westridge generates an estimated $366,000 for the Metro Vancouver region. In a year, the expansion adds $125 million in regional spending in Metro Vancouver or $2.5 billion over 20 years of operations.

We’re providing $150 million over 20 years to Western Canada Marine Response Corporation to enhance spill response capacity on the coast. WCMRC is creating about 115 new permanent jobs and six new response stations. This includes about 70 permanent jobs on Vancouver Island, a major new operations base in Vancouver’s Inner Harbour and a new program of geographic response plans for spill response encompassing the entire BC coast.

This investment benefits everyone in British Columbia’s marine community — response to any spill in BC’s southern shipping route will be faster, and more trained personnel and equipment will be available.

Trans Mountain has committed funding and contributions in-kind to an ongoing industry research initiative to advance knowledge of oil fate and behaviour applicable to detailed emergency preparedness and response planning. Condition 35 for an Environmental Assessment Certificate from the province of BC requires that Trans Mountain provide a report in consultation with government agencies and Aboriginal Groups. Already, Trans Mountain has been instrumental in setting up a scientific advisory committee within industry.

We’re funding research projects for the betterment of marine mammals including orcas as well as sea birds. We’re contributing to post-secondary education programs with a marine focus. We’re donating to efforts to restore and research salmon populations.

We are also excited about the federal government’s announcement, when it accepted in November 2016 the National Energy Board’s recommendation to approve our Project, to create a $1.5-billion national Oceans Protection Plan. The plan includes what the government describes as “a world-leading marine safety system that protects Canada’s coasts.” The government committed to improved marine traffic monitoring by opening new radar sites in key strategic locations and strengthens the Canadian Coast Guard’s marine services and traffic services centres. It is also increasing the Coast Guard’s towing capacity for large vessels — and container ships.

We look forward to seeing the benefits of our commitments in the years ahead. It’s a long list. We believe it demonstrates our desire to remain a strong, positive force for our national economy while ensuring the benefits of our Expansion Project are distributed as widely as possible.