Say YES to better community oil spill readiness!

Photo: Christianne WilhelmsonCoastal communities have the most to lose from the increasing threat of an oil spill, but unfortunately our local governments don’t have the support or the resources they need to be prepared. As we learned from the English Bay fuel oil spill, when it took 12 hours for senior agencies to notify the City of Vancouver of the incident, all too often local governments are sidelined in marine oil spill planning and response. Meanwhile, citizens have no official voice at all in developing local spill response plans. Find out more in our new report.

This needs to change.

Next week, local leaders from across the province will gather at the Union of BC Municipalities Conference in Vancouver. They will be voting on a resolution calling for extra resources to help strengthen local preparedness, and for communities to be given a real seat at the table in federal oil spill planning.

Please email your local government representatives and ask them to vote YES to Resolution A4– Resourcing Local Governments for Oil and Hazardous and Noxious Substances Emergency Planning Response (see p. 93) at next week’s UBCM conference.

Here’s how:

  1. Find the contact details for your Mayor & Council or Regional District Directors.
  2. You can use the template below to help you write your email – remember, the more personalized you make it, and the more you refer to your own views and circumstances, the more impact it will have. (To find out more about local oil spill preparedness, check out our new report which explores the issues in depth.)
  3. Send your email to all of your local representatives (not just the Mayor or Regional District Chair – everyone has a vote at the UBCM). Please copy on your email so we can track how many people have reached out on this issue, and amplify your voices when we talk to your representatives in person at the conference.

Please send your email ASAP, and by Tuesday, September 22nd at the latest, since the vote is first thing Wednesday morning. If the resolution passes, this will become a priority issue for the federal and provincial government, and we will be one step closer to making sure that communities are in the best possible position to protect public safety and the environment in the event of an oil spill.

Email template

Subject line: UBCM: Yes to stronger oil spill preparedness!

  • I’m concerned that my community is not adequately prepared for an oil spill, and I believe that oil spill planning is an important issue for local governments to engage in.
  • At the UBCM conference in Vancouver, please vote YES to Resolution A4 – Resourcing Local Governments for Oil and Hazardous and Noxious Substances Emergency Planning Response.
  • The fuel oil spill in English Bay showed that although local governments currently have no ability to decide what travels through adjacent waters, they do have an important role to play in oil spill response, from providing emergency services to protecting public health to monitoring environmental impacts. We need emergency response plans that recognize the vital roles of local governments in spill related emergencies, and a meaningful seat at the table for communities in multi-agency spill planning and response.
  • Local governments do not have enough resources to participate in oil spill risk assessment and planning processes, let alone respond to the impacts of oil spills on their communities.
  • Cuts to the Coast Guard, Environment Canada and Emergency Management BC are part of a pattern of a chronic downloading of risk to communities in BC. Senior levels of government need to provide extra support and resources to ensure that BC local governments are in the best possible position to protect residents and the environment in the event of an oil spill.

Sign off with your name and where you live, and please make sure to send  your email by Tuesday, September 22nd at the latest.

Thank you!