Lasqueti Island is one of the more remote communities in the Islands Trust Area, boasting passenger-only ferry service, stands of old growth forest, no paved roads and no BC Hydro electric grid to serve its 400 residents.
The transformation of this alternative sanctuary into a massive shipping terminal for raw bitumen would seem unthinkable to most, but that’s exactly what was proposed by Edward G. Monteiro in the magazine BC Shipping News last month.
The marine consultant and ship’s captain ponders the dilemma of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project in a guest column, stating it will probably never succeed with the current plans to end the twinned pipeline at the existing Burnaby terminus.
“Part of the problem has been trying to implement the project in a location that might not be suitable,” Monteiro writes, while advocating an “out of sight, out of mind” approach.
“If the pipeline was diverted to a relatively unoccupied or isolated island in the outer reaches of Vancouver, where no one could see or care, it would be half the battle won,” he argues.
Islands Trust Council has undertaken multiple advocacy projects that deal with protecting the Salish Sea from shipping threats. It has called on the federal government to work towards eliminating the use of 33 commercial freighter anchorages throughout the southern Gulf Islands and advocated for senior government policy to deal with abandoned vessels.
“We were certainly distressed about the lack of awareness of the Salish Sea,” Luckham said about Monteiro’s column. “And when you think about it, it’s absurd a senior ranking officer in a professional capacity thinks you can snow people by doing something where you can’t see it.”
“He completely doesn’t get that our issue is the shipping and the potential of a spill, and also climate change,” Luckham added.
A response to the piece has been drafted, with hopes it will be published in an upcoming issue of the shipping industry magazine. Luckham notes in his response that Monteiro refers to the pipeline terminus as “tidewater,” which is a term the oil industry frequently uses.
“In describing the shortcoming of the current ‘tidewater,’ also known as Burnaby, Cpt. Monterio does an excellent job of outlining why it’s a terrible idea to ship toxic bitumen through the complex narrows of Burrard Inlet right past downtown Vancouver,” Luckham writes, before explaining why shipping it to an island in a protected region would be an even worse idea.
“We are firmly against the expansion because the west coast of Canada isn’t simply ‘tidewater.’ It isn’t the end of the line. It is a precious, fragile part of the world that needs our protecting. Not just for ourselves but for future generations.”