Wilderness Committee report states impacts of potential oil spill on Stanley Park

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      The Wilderness Committee, Canada’s largest citizen-funded wilderness protection group, has released a 12-page report on the risks posed to Stanley Park as a result of the expansion of oil tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet. Titled “Oil Spills and Vancouver’s Stanley Park”, the report was written by Greenpeace International cofounder Rex Weyler, with contributions by Dana Cook, Mary Kelly, Damien Gillis of the Common Sense Canadian, Robyn Worcester of the Stanley Park Ecology Society, and Ben West of the Wilderness Committee.

      “An oil spill in the Georgia Strait or Burrard Inlet would be a devastating blow to everyone who loves Stanley Park, and to the numerous wildlife species that call the park home,” West stated in a news release regarding the report Wednesday (July 11). “This report makes it clear what is at stake if we allow Burrard Inlet to be an export route for toxic tar sands oil.”

      The report cites that Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion would result in the movement of more than 300 oil tankers through Burrard Inlet per year, increasing the chances of a “catastrophic oil spill”. Many of these tankers would be carrying bitumen crude oil from the tar sands, and the risks associated with an oil spill involving this type of material would be even greater than those associated with a conventional oil spill.

      The 1,000-acre public park, which the report calls “the jewel of Vancouver”, is home to more than 230 bird species, as well as marine mammals, reptiles, amphibians, shellfish, fish, and plants that already been heavily impacted by the increase of shipping activity over the years. An oil spill could potentially disrupt migration patterns along the West Coast, impact local food chains, and ruin breeding and nesting habitats for years.

      The Wilderness Committee and Tanker Free B.C. will hold a public meeting to discuss how oil tanker traffic could impact Stanley Park and local communities 7 p.m. Thursday (July 12) at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews). Speakers at the event include report contributors West and Worcester, as well as Vancouver park commissioner Niki Sharma, Sven Biggs of Tanker Free B.C., and Rueben George of the Tsleil-Wantuth Nation.

      You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.