Category Archives: Canada

Bowen Island’s Olympic moment

Marching down the road to the dock, Bowen Islanders prepare for the Olympic torch ceremonies the day before the big event.


By Alison Bate

It was dark and sleepy as I drove down to Snug Cove at 5:30 a.m. yesterday, but every house had its lights on.

I parked the car, offloaded my bike and pedalled across the cool damp field to Snug Cove. I passed walkers with their headlights on as I trundled across the boardwalk and left it outside the library.

“It’s like waiting for the bus,” I heard, as I stood outside the library, surrounded in the dark by hundreds of fellow islanders, many wearing red and white or the Olympic red mittens – none of which showed in the dark. It was chilly, and we were all huddled up, waiting for something to happen.

“Ooh, there it is,” and we looked up the road to see an orange wobbly flame, with a huge crowd of people walking behind it, ghosts in the dark. “Why are there two flames?” asked someone in the crowd. The flame or flames seemed to disappear from view somewhere near the General Store, and we resumed our waiting-for-the-bus positions. Continue reading

What if a containership ran aground on Nootka Island?

By Alison Bate

When a ship gets into trouble off the remote west coast of Vancouver Island, there are very few rescue services around.

The province relies on a commercial tug in the area being able to help out. Currently, major seagoing tugs carry electronic tracking devices so they can be located in real-time on computer charts. This information is provided to US and Canadian Marine Vessel Traffic Services to refer to if there is an emergency request for tug assistance. This is known as a “tug-of-opportunity”.

Apart from the fact that there may not be a tug capable of holding a large ship cruising by at the right time, there are several other flaws in this arrangement. Continue reading

Tug escort rules vary in B.C.

By Alison Bate

I must admit I was a little surprised not to get a straight answer from Transport Canada at first about the number of tug escorts traveling with condensate tankers into Kitimat.

I assumed it was clearly set down in the legislation whether tankers carrying this kind of hydrocarbon mixture required tug escorts and, if so, how many.

After all, set rules are laid down for laden oil tankers passing through Haro Strait. They are required to travel with tug escorts, as are laden crude oil tankers leaving the port of Vancouver, typically from Kinder Morgan Canada’s Westridge Terminal in Burnaby.

Continue reading

What if a tanker heading for Kitimat hit another vessel?

By Alison Bate

What would happen if a tanker on its way to Kitimat collided with a tug in the scenic Inside Passage?

According to the author of a new report, major flaws would be exposed in the way marine accidents are handled here in British Columbia.

“Nobody is essentially watching the store – at least not the whole building,” says EnviroEmerg consultant Stafford Reid, near the end of a mammoth 144-page report quietly released in mid-September.

Continue reading