Liberal bill will bar oil tanker traffic from northern B.C. coast

A voluntary ban keeps most big tankers out of the area, the legislation will formalize the process

New legislation introduced by the federal government will bar most oil tankers from operating along the coast of northern British Columbia.

It will ban tankers carrying crude oil and so-called persistent oils from stopping, loading or unloading at any ports or marine installations from the northern tip of Vancouver Island all the way to the B.C.-Alaska border, including Haida Gwaii.

The legislation fulfills an election pledge made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and included in Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s mandate letter in November 2015.

RELATED: Pipeline may well be defeated in courts, not the streets

Some groups, weary of waiting for Trudeau to make good on his promise, became concerned when the ban wasn’t originally included in the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan unveiled in early November 2016.

A few weeks later, however, he reiterated the promise at the same time as he announced the Liberal government was rejecting an application for the Northern Gateway pipeline in B.C., saying the legislation would be introduced in the spring.

Garneau had the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act tabled Friday in the House of Commons.

Tankers carrying less than 12,500 metric tonnes of oil are exempt from the proposed law, to ensure northern communities can continue to receive shipments of necessary fuels. Maximum penalties for defying the ban are as high as $5 million.

The legislation will allow for amendments to exempt or add additional products based on science and environmental safety.

ELECTION 2017: Oil pipeline politics

Persistent oils are defined as those that are heavier and dissipate slowly if they spill, such as synthetic crude, partially upgraded bitumen and Bunker C fuel oil.

Gavin Smith, lawyer for the West Coast Environmental Law Association, said it’s great the government is making good on its promise.

“It’s consistent with what the federal government signalled it was going to do,” Smith said.

There is a voluntary ban already that keeps most big tankers out of the area, and the legislation will formalize that process, once passed, he said. However, there is a dearth of information about what kind of traffic does go through the region, something Smith said he’d like to see Transport Canada make public.

Smith also said at first glance, the legislation appears strong enough to prevent the approval of any future major projects, such as the Northern Gateway pipeline.

One provision in particular is of special concern, he said: it gives the minister the authority to grant exemptions to vessels if their passage is deemed to be in the public interest or of help to local communities.

Not everyone supports the idea of a law, however.

One indigenous resource development group behind an energy corridor proposal in B.C. and Alberta accused the government of imposing a blanket ban against the wishes and interests of First Nations.

Eagle Spirit Energy group says the government has no business telling it what it can do in its territories and that the decision to enact legislation will harm indigenous economic development.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

UPDATE: Man with gunshot wound drives into ditch on Chilliwack River Road

Serious crimes investigators believe early morning shooting to be targeted

Mother hit in Maple Ridge truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

Fee increase report is ‘not a final decision’ says mayor

Input wanted on Mission business licence fee increases, some of which were more than 1,000% higher

Suspect arrested and charged for assault on autistic man

Parmvir Chahil has strong Abbotsford ties; two others charged with accessory after the fact

UPDATE: Daycare evacuated when staff spot smoke coming from air-handling unit

Everyone safe and no damage to building Thursday afternoon in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Mission’s Todd Davies Spring Break Showdown

Youth hockey tournament draws in 28 teams from nearby communities

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

B.C. pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions from around B.C. for National Puppy Day 2018

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

B.C. officials failed to tell Kiwis Fraser Health CEO had been fired in 2014

New Zealand spending scandal exposes Dr. Nigel Murray 2014 exit from B.C. job

PHOTOS: Students exhibit stunning paper couture dresses

22 paper made gowns will be on display at Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre until March 27

Most Read