Cumberland considering stance on tanker traffic

Delegation asks council to follow lead of other communities


Cumberland council will consider this month whether it wants to take a stance on proposals to increase tanker traffic in B.C. waters.

Council heard Monday from a citizen-led delegation requesting council adopt a resolution stating its opposition to bitumen export pipeline proposals, which would lead to increased tanker traffic off B.C.’s coast.

According to the proposed resolution, 35 B.C. community governments — including Kitimat, (which stands to gain the most from the Northern Gateway project), large municipalities like Vancouver and Victoria, and the Union of BC Municipalities and the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities — have already adopted similar resolutions.

“We ask here that the Village of Cumberland join these communities because our immediate coastal areas are vulnerable to the damage of increased super-tanker traffic and the inevitable spills they will cause,” reads the preamble to the proposed resolution.

Cumberland council waits until its next scheduled meeting before considering matters brought up by delegations to council, so consideration is scheduled for Monday, July 28.

However, some councillors voiced their thoughts Monday. Coun. Gwyn Sproule noted she was supportive of a resolution stating opposition.

“I think you’re preaching to the converted,” she told delegation member and Valley resident Jim Curtin. “The route that the tankers have to take is through some of the most unspoiled wilderness and the most convoluted waterways, with rocky shores.”

As Cumberland director on the Comox Valley Regional District board, she noted that board has written “very clear letters” opposing area coal licences being issued by the Province, but its municipal “voice is not being heeded over and over again.”

The proposed resolution notes a number of Cumberland citizens work in the Alberta oil fields and states a concern about longterm jobs if product is shipped unrefined, pointing to a need for refinement in Canada to “enhance job creation and tax revenue.”

Coun. Kate Greening liked the economic considerations outlined in the proposed resolution.

“What I really like in the resolution actually is encouraging Canada to enhance job creation within our own country,” she said. “When you just export everything including jobs, logs and oil, you’re actually being not really a real country, like you’re just a subsidiary of another country where you’re sending them all your stuff. So, I think to really lean on the enhancement of job creation and refining in Canada makes a lot more sense.”

Comox and Courtenay turned down earlier delegation requests; Comox Mayor Paul Ives told the Record the committee that sets Comox council agendas decided the issue was not in the Town’s jurisdiction, and Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula said it was not within Courtenay council’s mandate.

However, Comox Council was expected to consider Wednesday whether to allow the delegation (after the Record’s deadline) as the decision to deny the request for a delegation was appealed. Courtenay council is expected to do the same at its Monday council meeting.

Dave Mills of Dogwood Initiative, who was one of the other speakers in Monday’s delegation to Cumberland council, said Tuesday more than 5,000 Comox Valley residents have signed the Let BC Vote pledge — which calls for a province-wide vote to determine if residents want pipelines and tanker traffic expanded here.


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