Environment Minister Terry Lake is on target in calling for more coast-guard protection for B.C.’s rugged coast.
The MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson made a point of informing federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield during Ashfield’s visit to Vancouver last week that we needed more, not less, coverage.
Lake pointed out that the province will experience a significant increase in ocean traffic in the next few years. For that reason alone, this is not the time for reduced maritime safeguards.
“At a time when more, not less, traffic is being considered for the coast, we need to understand that the resources for the coast guard are going to match that increase,” Lake told the Vancouver Sun on Tuesday.
What’s particularly galling about the federal government’s cutbacks to B.C.’s coast guard is that it comes at the same time that Ottawa is hotly pursuing increased ocean traffic.
So the timing of the cutbacks intersecting with the increase in maritime activity is no incidental coincidence. The two should grow proportionately, not one shrink while the other expands.
It is the Conservatives, after all, who are so keen to develop oil and natural-gas pipelines from Alberta to the northern coast, from whence it will be shipped by ocean freighters and tankers.
A lot of it will head directly out to sea, farther and farther away, en route to Asia. But as the U.S. economy picks up, a lot of it will sail south, all the way down the fjord-cut coast to Washington state refineries.
The cruise-ship business will also experience renewed growth, as will private sailings. (And let’s not get into illegal migration and human-smuggling rings reaching B.C.’s coast — we haven’t heard that last of that.)
And it deserves a mention that growing trade with Asia is a two-way sea, with more and more tankers coming here. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the housing industry is starting to come back to life, and that means more timber/lumber sailing south.
We shouldn’t have to stress to Ottawa that with that need for better coast-guard protection comes a great fortune for this country in exported energy. Looking at it long-term, it really isn’t a cost issue because the boon could easily pay for the additional coverage.
So with all that profit and economic growth, isn’t it reasonable to put a small portion of the bounty into coast-guard protection?
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.