Groups push for oil tanker ban along Canada’s west coast

An environmentalist who once ran for the leadership of the Green Party of B.C. says that “Vancouver is what stands between the tar sands and the end of the world.”

Ben West, the Wilderness Committee’s healthy communities campaigner, said his organization is cosponsoring an event with local group No Tanks this Sunday (October 17) to push for a legislated ban on all oil tanker traffic along Canada’s west coast, including in Burrard Inlet. West believes two tankers per week travel under the Second Narrows Bridge, the Lions Gate Bridge, and out into the Georgia and Juan de Fuca straits. West claims this will eventually increase to 10 tankers per week.

“There is a lot of responsibility [on Vancouver],” West told the Straight in an interview at a West Side coffee shop. “I think there is good reason why people should be looking to us for leadership, if not some responsibility. Here we are in this province that claims to be a leader in addressing climate change.”¦Meanwhile we’re bending over backwards to facilitate the export of the very things that cause climate change to the biggest emitters in the world—both the United States and China.”

In his July 5 speech at Vancouver city council’s special meeting on tanker traffic, Port Metro Vancouver chief operating officer Chris Badger said the port handled a total of 8.3 million tonnes of “petroleum products” in 2009, around eight percent of the total cargo last year. Badger confirmed that the port also handles raw bitumen from the Alberta tar sands, which he said is exported by tanker mainly to California, due to the fact that there is no pipeline between B.C. and the state.

“Port Metro Vancouver’s mandate is to support and grow Canadian trade,” Badger said at the time. “If Canada decides it will trade a specific commodity, including oil, it is the port’s responsibility to facilitate the transport of that cargo in the safest, most efficient, and environmentally responsible manner possible.”

However, both West and local activist Rex Weyler, a member of No Tanks, believe there are huge risks associated with large tankers, which they claim carry up to 700,000 barrels of oil each. This is almost three times the estimated 250,000 barrels spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

West said “large-scale change” is needed from the grassroots, which is why he is urging those concerned to come to Second Beach in Stanley Park for the weekend event, which begins at 2 p.m.




Oct 14, 2010 at 8:18am

There are also huge risks sitting on ones hands and wanting the world to stop. Get real Mr. West we rely on petroleum energy to improve our lives. Everyone knows there are risks and voices like yours prompt us to continually improve safety - not just in tankers but in GPS navigation, radar and dozens of way. Thank you for that. But even bicycle riders in their neat little downtown lanes require oil and tires - all of which were in an oil pipleline before we use them. Safe development of natural resources should be the clarion call we listen to. Stop the world I want to get off fails where the same effort could succeed.

glen p robbins

Oct 14, 2010 at 4:26pm


Do you support the transport of Alberta Tar Sands Oil by pipeline through the province of British Columbia and by tanker along our provincial coastline?

Yes 27 %
No 55 %
Undecided 18 %

Yes--24% Vancouver Island, 27% Lower Mainland, 30% North and Interior
No--66% Vancouver Island, 53% Lower Mainland, 46% North and Interior


Oct 14, 2010 at 4:28pm

Two words... climate change. The world is changing like it or not. The only question is do we make a graceful transition or not.