Of course no politician in this country would risk any change to the status quo so, reduced automobile use is not something likely to occur in the near term smoggy horizon but, we can continue to smugly point our fingers at people elsewhere who also need oil. If the main objection is an oil leak occurring in the Salish Sea (Georgia Strait) or somewhere off the coast of Haida Gwaii, then perhaps all we need to do is look at the problem a little differently and put the pipeline terminus somewhere else.
Given the treacherous nature of Hecate Strait outside of Prince Rupert and the tricky navigation of Douglas Channel that also leads to Hecate Strait from Kitimat, it's easy to see why folks are worried about oil supertankers in these waters. Vancouver, however, is a different story with the only oil spill we've had being caused by a backhoe doing some routine municipal work and inadvertently puncturing a pipeline in the process. There has never been an oil tanker spill (in spite of one leaving every 3 days) because every oil tanker leaving Vancouver has 3 tug boats attached to it until it safely reaches open water. Nonetheless Vancouverites aren't going to allow themselves to be the perceived sacrificial lamb in order to save the fragile North so basically we have a stand-off in spite of the federal government's determination to push through the pipeline.
|Oil tanker passing under 2nd Narrows Bridge|
|Oil tanker loading up in Burnaby photo by Junie Quiroga|
If the oil pipeline terminus was located in Victoria or Port Alberni, both well established deep water ports more than capable of handling oil tankers, the problem would immediately shift to the west coast of Vancouver Island which has only open sea between it and mainland China, or anywhere else in the Far East for that matter. While it's true that an oil tanker spill in the Port Alberni Inlet would be devastating for the pristine Broken Island group, it's also true the inlet, or canal as it is often referred to, is very straight, easily navigable and quite safe to transit. Combined with some tugboat support and the already mandatory marine pilot service, it's unlikely there would ever be a problem. The same could be said for ships leaving Victoria once they had cleared Juan de Fuca Strait.
|Proposed bridge crossing routes|
Getting a bridge built from Vancouver to Vancouver Island has been a dream of many British Columbians ever since the province came into existence. While the necessary engineering is complex, unproven, and costly, it isn't impossible and the timing couldn't be better for getting it built at Alberta's expense. A bridge that would finally connect Vancouver Island to the mainland while at the same time facilitating the transport of oil to a safer port is indeed a bridge over troubled waters and something we might wish to now seriously consider.
|Proposed floating bridge design|