British Columbia’s largest-ever expansion of spill response personnel and equipment will be completed on the South Coast as part of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) is implementing a spill response enhancement program that will see $150 million invested in new equipment and new response bases in the Salish Sea. These enhancements will double response capacity while cutting in half the delivery time of existing planning standards.

Although the Trans Mountain Expansion Project  is facilitating the funding, the new WCMRC personnel, vessels and equipment will be available for any spill incident along the BC southern marine shipping route, further improving safety for the entire shipping industry, as well as residential, commercial and other users who traverse and enjoy the waters off the Coast.

Here are details about the new base locations, equipment and personnel:

  • 43 new response vessels, doubling the current WCMRC fleet to 88 vessels.
  • Eight new spill response bases in the Salish Sea. The proposed bases would include 24/7 on-water bases in Vancouver Harbour and North Saanich.
  • Approximately 120 new employees, most of who would be assigned to new bases on Vancouver Island. The operating infrastructure to integrate the enhancements into a functional system

Eight New Response Bases

Vancouver Harbour, BC

The Vancouver Harbour satellite base will be located at the bottom of Commissioner Street near New Brighton Park. It will report to South Coast operations and will operate 24/7. It will house new personnel, barges, skimming vessels, landing craft and workboats.

Fraser River, BC

The Fraser River satellite base in Richmond will report to South Coast operations. It will house new personnel, mini-barges, a skimming vessel, landing craft and workboats.

Nanaimo, BC

Located on Nanaimo Port Authority property, the base will function as the hub for all the satellite bases on Vancouver Island. It will house new personnel, a response barge, a coastal response vessel, landing craft and workboats. The base will also operate as the main repair shop and training centre for all Vancouver Island response staff. It will replace the current Duncan office and will support Vancouver Island area management and administration functions. 

Sidney, BC

The new Saanich Peninsula satellite base will operate 24/7 and will house new personnel, a skimming vessel, landing craft and workboats. The base will serve as an important rapid response site for spills in the Gulf Islands. Moorage for the vessels will be located at Van Isle Marina and warehouse facilities will be located at Victoria International Airport. 

Victoria, BC

An offshore support vessel will be stationed at Ogden Point near Victoria Harbour. It will be available 24/7 and supported by smaller workboats.

Beecher Bay, BC

The new Beecher Bay satellite base will house new personnel, a skimming vessel, a coastal response vessel, landing craft and workboats. 

Ucluelet, BC

The vessels moored at Ucluelet will serve as the initial rapid response for the west coast of Vancouver Island. The vessels include a coastal response vessel and a mini-barge.

Port Alberni, BC

Port Alberni will be one of two response locations for the west coast of Vancouver Island. It will house new personnel and key response vessels, including a skimming vessel, a response barge with offshore-capable equipment, landing craft and workboats.

New Equipment

Coastal Response Vessels (3 under order)

The Coastal Response Vessels  will be capable of working in unsheltered waters to the extent of the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone limit. Each vessel will carry 762 metres of containment boom and a Current Buster-4 sweep system.

3,500T Response Barges (2 planned)

These barges will provide on-water storage for recovered oil. These will be able to deploy skimmers and also serve as on-water on-scene command posts. These will form an integral component of WCMRC’s offshore response strategy for the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone limit.

73’ Mobile Skimmer (1 on order)

This is a dedicated fast-response vessel outfitted with boom that is designed for unsheltered Juan de Fuca Strait waters between Race Rocks and Buoy Juliet.  It has a transit speed of 20 knots and the mechanical oil recovery modules onboard can skim a wide spectrum of oils.

65’ Mobile Skimmer (2 on order)

These vessels are suitable for unsheltered water operation and its capabilities are similar to that of the larger 73’ mobile skimmer.

50’ Landing Craft (4 planned)

Capable of high speeds and shore landings, these vessels can be used for boom deployment along shallow shorelines. These vessels can also be used to for backhauling solid and liquid waste.

36’ Landing Craft (4 planned)

Capable of high speeds and shore landings, these vessels can be used for boom deployment along shallow shorelines. These vessels can also be used to for backhauling solid and liquid waste.

26’ Workboat (4 planned)

The workboat is a general-purpose vessel that can tend boom, assist in recovery operations and support shoreline cleanup.

Boom Skiff (10 planned)

The boom skiff can deliver 610 metres of containment boom when used as an unpowered towable magazine, significantly boosting boom delivery during a response.

40T Mini-Barge (12 planned)

The mini-barges are designed as short term storage vessels towed at transit speeds behind coastal response vessels, mobile skimmers and Vessels of Opportunity. The mini-barge can also supply general purpose boom and act as a stationary skimming platform.

Offshore Response Vessel (1 planned)

The Offshore Response Vessel  will support the six-hour delivery of response capability, including on-water storage. The vessel will support WCMRC’s offshore response strategy within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone limit.

To date, WCMRC has completed extensive work on the program. However, the enhancements are currently on hold as a result of the recent federal court ruling that nullified the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.