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COMMENTARY · 14th September 2012
Karen Wristen
I live on a sailboat. My “backyard” is Georgia and Johnstone Straits. And, yes, I am a NIMBY.

To anyone who wants to transport Alberta’s tar sands oil through BC’s pristine wilderness to load onto tankers, I say: Not In My Backyard.

We all know what the dire environmental consequences will be if several hundred oil tankers begin traversing BC’s coastal waters every year, if the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project is approved, and if Kinder Morgan doubles the volume of tar sands oil transported to Vancouver. It’s not a question of “if”, but rather when – and where.

And we all know what it will mean to us when places we love are damaged, perhaps beyond repair. (Anyone who doubts the long-term devastation an oil spill can wreak on a community hasn’t read this interview with marine toxicologist Riki Ott: www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/oil-spill-specialist-dr-riki-ott-message-warning-and-hope.)

One picture may or may not be worth a thousand words, but it can certainly tell a story. Living Oceans would like you to tell yours.

We’ve launched an interactive Keep It Clean map on our website as a “visual petition” to remind the federal and provincial governments that the majority of British Columbians do not want tankers on our coasts or pipelines in our land.

Wherever you live – whether or not it is on the coast or along the routes of the proposed pipelines – we invite you to send us your own visual message.

Your image can be from an individual, a group or a community. It can take any form you want – a message in the sand, a protest, a poster or piece of art you have created – or simply a favourite place you do not want to see destroyed. Have as much fun as you can celebrating British Columbia’s waters and land. (You can see some of the images already submitted at www.flickr.com/photos/livingoceansfriends/sets/72157630181143866.)

Please share this invitation with friends and family. And don’t limit yourself to people living in British Columbia. We’re not the only Canadians opposed to the Harper government’s tar sands oil plans and ours are not the only images which should be on this map.

Images can be loaded to the map here: www.livingoceans.org/maps/keep-it-clean.

If you’re particularly proud of your image, you can submit it for consideration in the Living Oceans annual Oceans Exposure photo competition(www.livingoceans.org/photo-contest/enter). This year an extra category, Keep It Clean, has been added. All photos submitted here will also be included on the map. Deadline for competition entries is September 30th.

And, whether or not you are able to send a photo, please take a minute to send a message to Premier Christy Clark, reminding her that it is not the job of the government of British Columbia to demand money from Alberta to clean up oil spills. It is the government’s job to prevent oil spills ever happening. (Go to www.livingoceans.org/initiatives/tankers/action.)

Between the proposed pipeline and tanker routes, not many backyards in BC are safe.


Karen Wristen is the Executive Director of Living Oceans Society.