May 18, 2022 — Western Canada Marine Response Corporation’s new building at the Port of Nanaimo is designed to be the flagship of what will be a network of locations throughout Vancouver Island.

“It’s the flagship for all our operations on the Island,” says Michael Lowry, Senior Manager, Communications for WCMRC. “It’s perfectly situated, great access for us, and we’re in there now. It’s the only one of our buildings that we’ve designed from scratch, as the other buildings are pre-fab buildings.”

Knappett Industries Ltd. built the BJK Architecture Inc. designed-building, which includes 1,280 square metres of office and 900 square metres of warehouse.

WCMRC is in the process of building six new bases in southern B.C., four of which will be on the Island. Port Alberni (which also has vessels stationed in Ucluelet) Beecher Bay near Sooke and Sidney join the other sites in Vancouver harbour, the Fraser River, and an existing base in Prince Rupert.

“The Nanaimo base will be home to 40 full time staff, most of whom will be first responders, who are primarily mariners, and 15 vessels,” Lowry adds. “It will be the administrative hub for the Island, and it has command-post capabilities as well.”

WCMRC is an enhancement program prepared in anticipation of the Trans Mountain Pipeline’s completion, which is expected to increase tanker traffic in B.C. waters. 44 new vessels are being built to double the size of its fleet, and 12 new staff have been added, Lowry notes.

Started as Burrard Clean Operations in 1976, WCMRC was formed in 1995 to respond to spills in all of western Canada’s navigable waters, with Burrard Clean becoming a division of WCMRC.

WCMRC is the Transport Canada-certified marine spill response organization for Canada’s West Coast. Its mandate under the Canada Shipping Act is to be prepared to respond to marine oil spills along all 27,000 kilometres of the province’s coastline, and to mitigate the impact when a spill occurs. This includes the protection of wildlife, economic and environmental sensitivities, and the safety of both the responders and the public.

WCMRC maintains the infrastructure, equipment, bases, personnel and management resources to ensure a safe and effective response to a marine spill in B.C. waters. Their team continuously researches, tests and implements new equipment and technologies, and this includes training in advanced recovery techniques, commissioning purpose-built vessels, and field-testing new technologies. It is an industry-funded organization with more than 2,300 members. Membership is mandatory for vessels of a certain size calling on Canadian ports, as well as for oil-handling facilities receiving or shipping oil across their docks.

WCMRC is the only Transport Canada-certified marine response organization on Canada’s west coast, and on average, responds to 20 spills each year.

This article and more can be found in the Port’s latest newsletter, available for download here.