A new spill response station in Beecher Bay will soon help protect the waters off southern Vancouver Island.
The Scia’new First Nation, in partnership with Western Canada Marine Response (WCMR), will build the $150 million project at the Cheanuh Marina.
Nine vessels will be moored and an office/warehouse will be constructed nearby.
New docks will also be constructed. Twenty full-time response personnel will be at the base.
“We realized we were 72 hours from spill response time and that was not good enough for us,” said elected chief of the Scia’new First Nation Russell Chipps.
The nation believes this is a major step in protecting the waters their community and others rely on.
“It’s our food out there,” said Chipps.
“It’s the band’s food, it’s the community’s food. It’s the food of the Island and someone’s got to protect that and Beecher Bay are the people who are going to do that.”
The project’s money is connected to fees hooked to the Trans Mountain Pipeline and is part of a larger network being constructed.
“We are looking at a main facility in Nanaimo,” said Michael Lowry of WCMR.
“We have a base in Port Alberni and Ucluelet, we have the Beecher Bay base. We are going to have a large offshore supply vessel in Victoria, and then in Sidney is the final base in the Island and that base will be staffed 24-7 like a fire hall.”
The Beecher Bay base will be in charge of protecting a large section just off the southern coast of Vancouver Island. They will be able to respond in just hours not just for tankers, but the many freighters and other vessels that pass through.
“They say around six [hours to respond].” said Chipps.”But I believe I’ll be out in the water in the first 15 minutes finding out what’s going on. We have a lot of experience on the water, we have been protecting the water for a long time, and yes we should be involved in what is happening in the ocean.”
Construction on the docks gets underway in the coming weeks. and will be complete in the summer of 2021. The office and warehouse will begin in July 2021. The base will be up and running by fall 2022.