Parliamentary secretary Jonathan Wilkinson (right) after announcing Vancouver Island components of Justin Trudeau's Oceans Protection Plan Tuesday morning in Victoria.

New facilities for Port Hardy, Port Renfrew and Victoria part of Oceans Protection Plan

Federal government also pledging better navigational data and tools to protect killer whales and several Vancouver Island waterways

Killer whales will be protected, Port Hardy will be getting a new environmental response centre and new lifeboat stations will be established in Victoria and Port Renfrew as part of the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan announced yesterday by Justin Trudeau.

Parliamentary Secretary Jonathan Wilkinson revealed details about how the plan will impact Vancouver Island during a media event this morning at the University of Victoria.

Among the highlights of the announcement:

  • Enhanced protection of the southern resident killer whales through investments in new large mammal avoidance systems and new measures to mitigate noise
  • A new logistics depot in Port Hardy to house environmental response staff and equipment to ensure rapid response to any spill
  • Creation of six new lifeboat stations, including stations in Victoria, Port Renfrew and Nootka
  • Investments in modern hydrographic and navigational data for Victoria, Esquimalt, Nanaimo, Port Renfrew, Port Alberni, Chemainus and Campbell River waterways

“The Oceans Protection Plan will lead to better responses when incidents occur off our coasts. And most importantly, it will take steps to ensure marine incidents do not happen in the first place,” Wilkinson said in a media release. “The Plan will help create economic opportunities for Canadians today, including jobs for the middle-class and for Indigenous Canadians, while protecting our waters for future generations to enjoy this extraordinary place.”

The announcement comes prior to a decision on the controversial $6.8 billion Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.

Among the previously announced marine spill response enhancements were Indigenous Community Response Teams and improved towing capacity for Canadian Coast Guard vessels.

After an announced federal plan that seemed considerably less than what B.C. officials had requested of Ottawa, Premier Christy Clark said Monday she is pleased with the progress after years of requests for more resources.

A briefing from federal officials left her confident that “the bulk of the benefits” will go to the Pacific coast, including one of the new heavy rescue tugs and towing upgrades to four Coast Guard vessels, she said.

“I have to say I have no cause for complaint with what we’ve seen today,” Clark told reporters.

— with file from Tom Fletcher