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Thursday, September 27, 2012 by Eric Swanson

Ground-breaking No Tankers motion passed by B.C. local governments

Ground-breaking No Tankers motion passed by B.C. local governments

Some of the champions who helped pass No Tankers resolution A8 (from left to right): Saanich councillor Dean Murdock, Smithers mayor Taylor Bachrach, Prince Rupert councillor Jennifer Rice and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.

Today at the Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting in Victoria, B.C.’s local government leaders passed the strongest ever provincial motion opposing the expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s coast.

In the week leading up to the vote more than 2,000 British Columbians wrote unique, personal letters to their local mayor and council encouraging them to vote for A8.

Celine and I from Dogwood Initiative were at the convention (along with an inspiring crew of esteemed colleagues from West Coast Environmental Law, Georgia Strait Alliance, Organizing for Change, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club BC and CPAWS) and we heard again and again from mayors and councillors how unusual it was to hear from constituents on a UBCM motion, how effective the letters were in getting out the vote, and how empowered they felt getting to know specific people in their community who aligned with their own values.

To all who wrote a letter: great work! You made all of the difference in the world, likely pushing the vote over the top (the motion passed by a hair’s margin of 51 to 49%).

Don’t be discouraged by that close vote. The many conversations that we had with elected officials, from McBride to Tofino to Grand Forks, proved how widespread and deeply felt the commitment is to protect our salmon rivers and coast from oil pipelines and tankers. Not everyone agreed, but remember that this motion was aggressively pushing new ground.

Previous UBCM motions have focused solely on Enbridge and consultation. Today’s motion means that the UBCM now opposes ALL projects, current or future, that would bring more oil tankers anywhere on B.C.’s coast. That was a hard sell for some local governments because it is a very definitive position.

The fact that such a strong, all-encompassing resolution was passed speaks to a growing province-wide realization that this isn’t just about our environment. It never has been. This is about protecting the very fabric of our communities, our local economies from Prince Rupert to Victoria to Fort St. James that depend on a healthy coastline and rivers, and our sense of ourselves as British Columbians.

Does today’s stand by local governments mean that the fight is over? No, local governments don't have formal jurisdiction over oil tanker and pipeline proposals. The power of today’s victory is in the symbolism of the motion and the political signal that it sends to Premier Clark and Prime Minister Stephen Harper that local communities have considered these proposals and, in many cases across the province, have found that any iteration of these schemes are contrary to the best interests of their residents.

The most powerful change starts from the ground up, and we sincerely applaud those elected mayors, councillors, and regional directors who courageously took a stand today. We’re inspired by the many First Nations who have laid the ground work for so long, we're inspired by you and everyone who is committed to carrying on the struggle.

Footnote: Unfortunately UBCM doesn't track individual votes. All we know is the final result. However we do know who stood up to the microphones to speak for or against the motion:

For (opposing tankers):
-Des Nobles, Director, Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District
-Vicki Sanders, Councillor, Saanich
-Vic Derman, Councillor, Saanich and CRD Director
-Ben Isitt, Councillor, Victoria and CRD Director

-Shari Green, Mayor, Prince George
-Tim Pennell, Director, Thompson-Nicola Regional District
-Dave Forshaw, Councillor, District of Mackenzie
-Jim Edgson, Director, Central Okanagan Regional District

There were others lined up to speak for the motion (including Jen Rice from Prince Rupert, Brian Skakun from Prince George, Evan Puterill from the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District, Cairine Green from Oak Bay) and against (didn’t quite catch who they were), but the vote was called before they had a chance to speak.

The motion, dubbed “A8” read as follows::

WHEREAS a crude oil spill would have devastating and long lasting effects on British Columbia’s unique and diverse coast, which provides critical marine habitat and marine resources that sustain the social, cultural, environmental and economic health of coastal and First Nations communities;

AND WHEREAS citizens of British Columbia, particularly those living in coastal communities, and First Nations communities and environmental groups have expressed well-founded concerns over the expansion of oil pipelines and oil tankers:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM oppose projects that would lead to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through BC’s coastal waters;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that UBCM urge the Premier of British Columbia, the Leader of the Official Opposition and members of the Legislative Assembly to use whatever legislative and administrative means that are available to stop the expansion of oil tanker traffic through BC’s coastal waters.


Alycia Clark says:
Sep 27, 2012 09:02 PM

What a progressive step forward! There is hope. Thanks for the support Skakun

Colleen Linseman says:
Sep 28, 2012 03:59 PM

The SHIFT has begun***

wayne says:
Oct 16, 2012 06:45 PM

There is hope thanks to our First Nations brothers and sisters

Kolina Logan says:
Oct 30, 2012 12:19 AM

This is for our children. We have a great legacy to leave them.

Susan Davenport says:
Sep 28, 2012 01:02 AM

Yayyyy!!! We made that happen! Thank you Dogwood for making it easy to make a difference.

Anonymous says:
Sep 28, 2012 01:56 AM

Was lois jackson mayor of delta there, anyone know how she voted?

Fran Harrop says:
Sep 28, 2012 01:58 AM

Well done Celine and Eric at Dogwood Initiative! Dogged and courageous made the day! Still have a lot of educating to do esp. about sustainability, climate change - that's the end game.

Jeffrey Simpson says:
Sep 28, 2012 01:35 PM

The result, close as it was, is very good news. Loud cheering and thunderous applause to all those who pushed this forward.

Nwflight says:
Sep 28, 2012 01:40 PM

Well done you guys. Going against the flow is not easy! ask the salmon.

Ron says:
Sep 28, 2012 03:10 PM

Well done !!! Thanks to all the Councillors who stood up for BC and voted to opposed Tankers in BC....I hope we can leave our kids and their kids a Beautiful BC that we have all enjoyed. Now lets hope Cristy Clark does her job!!

Matthew Scholtz (Groundwire) says:
Sep 28, 2012 03:20 PM

Great work, Dogwood and BC community.

Greg Abbott says:
Sep 28, 2012 03:26 PM

I emailed Christy just yesterday and told her it was a moot point,,, also that she needs to move her peeps onto agenda items that actually help make BC one of THE most beautiful places on the planet... Way to go BC!!!

Joanna Dudley says:
Sep 28, 2012 11:07 PM

Really encouraging news! Thanks all Dogwood Init Supporters and especially the Mayors and Municipal officers who are at last coming "on board" to protect our precious coastline, marine life, wildlife, and our Province! But no relaxing on laurels, lots more work to be done...

Sean says:
Oct 10, 2012 05:57 AM

nice! great work

Angele Ortega says:
Oct 15, 2012 09:46 PM

yes the tide is turning as we wake up to fact that each one of us does make a difference and networking our choice. Many thanks

Robin Chambers says:
Oct 15, 2012 10:17 PM

Well done Dogwood! Will see some of you in Victoria 22nd. So 3 for sure coming from Alberta.

Bonnie says:
Oct 16, 2012 02:17 AM

Now we will see if we live in a democracy or under tyranny. What is Christy's next step? Is it still all about the money for her? What is Harper's next step? Will he shove the constituents aside and do whatever he wants? This will be interesting to watch....

chris says:
Oct 16, 2012 02:32 PM

Yes, more and more people are becoming aware that quality of life on our planet DOES matter! Well done Dogwood!

sheryl says:
Oct 16, 2012 02:49 PM

Amazing. Thanks for all the hard work. How will it fair with the new deal Harper is making FIPA - Canada China Foriegn Investment Protection Agreement...especially after the sale of NEXEN???? Will our provincial governments have a say?

Suzanne Bernardin says:
Oct 16, 2012 03:51 PM

Bravo! supporting you from afar in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.

Andrea says:
Oct 16, 2012 03:57 PM

Hurray for BC from moi in Ontario. Let's keep working together in as many ways as we can find. Change is in the air!

Sheila Datoff says:
Oct 16, 2012 04:11 PM

Disappointed in the Mayor of Prince George !

Dale Dewar says:
Oct 16, 2012 04:17 PM

Bravo! But don't forget those who voted against the motion - they should receive more information and support to accept the will of the majority as they will have to take the decision back to their perhaps unhappy communities.

Maddy Buckman says:
Oct 16, 2012 04:20 PM

Great to see such positive action! I've been passing out the No Tanker loonies since the initiative began and talk to anyone who asks what they're about. We live far away, but the more who learn about this situation, the more will support you. Cheering you on from Ontario !

Anonymous says:
Oct 16, 2012 04:39 PM

thanks for the effort. Imagine if we can find a groundswell that will paralyze the Behemoth. I heard today that ENbridge has had 800 leaks/spills in the last number of years and the CEO said that they were humbled by the last one that they are still cleaning up form. Humbled shmumlbed!

G.N. Thompson says:
Oct 16, 2012 04:42 PM

Now, if we can get the tankers now operating to travel in pairs with enough spare room to load a leaking compartment off the other, I will feel much better.

Oct 16, 2012 04:58 PM

Fantastic we did it, and we will keep doing it...Yes.

Neil Cadger says:
Oct 16, 2012 05:52 PM

great news and interesting to see who voted for and against. I see Jim Edgson from the Central Okanagan voted against the motion. Does anyone know how the Kelowna contingent voted? I'm guessing we were mainly against. This city is populated by retired oilmen.

ROLAND says:
Oct 16, 2012 06:22 PM


Jacob says:
Oct 16, 2012 06:58 PM

Ridiculous. All the advancements in tanker safety we have now and during a time of an economic low. Europe has a sensitive ecosystem and has successfully dealt with vast tanker traffic without any spills. Why are we so $%&@#^@ special?

Ray says:
Oct 16, 2012 07:45 PM

This "victory" may mean nothing. Premier Clark and P.M. Harper can over ride any vote. It depends how much it costs to buy their final decision.

Pat M.M. says:
Oct 16, 2012 07:50 PM

I am so grateful to all of you who have accomplished this amazing step--and all the hard work that stands behind it. My husband comes from B.C. originally. We applaud you and are working on the other side of the Rockies for similar outcomes here in Alberta (Canada's petro-state province) where care for the environment is constantly trumped by demands of the oil and gas industry--in a tight partnership with our government who facilitates the assault on nature--all the why using the language of "care for the environment". But actions that allow unfettered fracking and drilling speak a million times louder than hollow words. We are always told we have the best regulations in the world. The problem is they are NOT enforced and there is no commitment to slowing down development of the oil sands. None. Please know dear BC'ers that many Albertans are supporting you and trying to change what is happening in Alberta. YOur fight to protect your beautiful coastline is a fight for all Canadians. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Roy Strang says:
Oct 16, 2012 07:55 PM

Congratulations to all those involved. It will be MOST interesting to see how our politicians respond to this widepread public sentiment.

RockyRacoon says:
Oct 16, 2012 08:42 PM

Time after time, issue after issue it is always the rank and file citizen who gets it right why don't our politician's listen to us?

RockyRacoon says:
Oct 16, 2012 08:44 PM

It wouldn't hurt to write4 the Chinese government directly to let them know how we feel.

LR says:
Oct 16, 2012 10:19 PM

Thanks Dogwood for making it easy to do!
Does anyone know how New Westminster voted?

Serena says:
Oct 16, 2012 10:57 PM

Well done Dogwood, thank you for what you do, and enabling those of us that can to participate. Great to see support from the rest of the country on this issue for the future of our beautiful province and for the future of our children

Hildegard says:
Oct 17, 2012 12:06 AM

yes, tell is everywhere: BC is NOT for sale! Land is more important than money...

Kim says:
Oct 17, 2012 02:33 AM

Yippie ky yay, it's a wonderful day. Let's bring it home.

Sparkydon says:
Oct 17, 2012 03:00 AM

Thank you all BC. Just so you know - not ALL Albertans are for this stupid project. Jim Prentice (yes the former environment Minister in this govt, who is now a VP at CIBC) was in Calgary speaking in favor. He even went so far as to publicly say that it would be bad for Canada if Obama was reelected! Lotsa class those Co servatives.

Pat Smart says:
Oct 17, 2012 07:00 AM

We must continue applying pressure, vocal & written. Keep up the great work everyone!

Cathryn Rankin says:
Oct 17, 2012 10:55 PM

Excellent progress! Thank you to all who have been working towards this. Yes, let's keep up the great work, continuing any possible avenues. says:
Oct 17, 2012 11:15 PM

Wonderful news. Take that illegitimate Harper regime.

Yzabella says:
Oct 18, 2012 07:09 AM

thank you so much for sharing this! it is my new doketsp image. i love your site. i wish i could be a graphic designer for my job! for now, i just do wedding announcements and such here and there. i am going to go check out your lovely place. i am a new follower! thanks again for sharing!{love} lauryn @

willard dillarew says:
Oct 18, 2012 03:37 PM

Finally some politicians with some guts!!Why does Harper continue to preach these pipelines are for the good of all Canadians?All they will allow is for the children of BIG OIL executives to drive 2013 BMWs instead of old 2012s.Harper feels all Canadians are stupid and will eat the stupidity candy he loves to hand out.Thanks TORIES for voting this wannabe oil company executive into office.

Ona says:
Oct 18, 2012 04:35 PM

paigeSuki, I’m glad you like the printable. This quote helps me to rebmmeer that if I do something with love, it doesn’t matter how small the task is. That’s hard to rebmmeer when you spend your days changing diapers and making bottles!

Gary Gray says:
Oct 18, 2012 08:45 PM

Great news! It is a small stitch in a world falling apart at the seams. One can only hope more citizens of this country and planet get themselves more educated and ethical about these very important issues! The time is now to take a firm stand on these issues and resist the quick buck.

yve s says:
Oct 19, 2012 12:15 AM

our household is very happy that our voices were heard!! I would like to thank the Dogwood team for helping so many of us get our voices heard. Now lets get the ball rolling on the Canada is not for Sale btwn China & Harper!

Earl Richards says:
Oct 24, 2012 03:12 PM

Remember the Exxon Valdez.

noreen galvin says:
Oct 25, 2012 01:22 PM

Wonderful! Maybe we Can Bring Our Democracy Back From our dear leader!

Mark Wilson says:
Oct 31, 2012 04:00 AM

Thankyou very much Dogwood for pressing this most very important issue. Thankyou to the Native Peoples and everyone else for fighting against
Oil Tankers and Pipelines. We need to put some of our Politicians, Oil
Executives and Backers in prison. The lying and corruption amounts to a crime. There seems to be a different Legal system at work here, they call it $.

sense to fight against Big Oil. For the members that are with Big oil, we will find out who you are and make sure your thrown out of office. It would be very interesting to look at your peoples bank accounts.

iphilg00d says:
Nov 05, 2012 09:01 PM

The tipping point has been reached here in BC. We will not be deterred in our resolve to protect our environment so that Albertans can make billions while we wallow in their toxic goo!

Luke Vorstermans says:
Sep 28, 2014 03:28 PM

Power to the people!!! The more we push our elected officials to respond to the demands of those who voted for them, the less likely they will vote the status quo! It's a democracy... Clark and Harper need to listen.

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