Cities vote to reject pipeline, ambulance changes

Lower Mainland delegates also pass motions on medical marijuana, coal export terminals

Lower Mainland cities have registered their concern over slower ambulance response times for many 911 calls.

Lower Mainland civic politicians voted last week to oppose the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline twinning and call for an overhaul of recent dispatch changes slowing ambulance response times many calls.

Those were among the resolutions passed at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association that will be forwarded to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention this fall.

The vote opposing Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion – which would triple oil pipeline capacity through the Lower Mainland and result in a five-fold jump in outbound oil tanker traffic – narrowly passed in a standing vote at the conference in Whistler.

Some cities, like Vancouver and Burnaby, already outright oppose the project, while others await more information through the National Energy Board’s review.

Lower Mainland delegates also voted for a resolution calling for an effective patient-centred emergency response service using fire, rescue and ambulance services working together.

It cited an “unprecedented downloading of costs and risk onto local government first responders” by the controversial move last fall to downgrade various non-urgent 911 calls for dispatch by ambulance at routine speeds, without lights and sirens.

Cities and fire departments complain it’s meant much longer ambulance waits for many patients, although provincial emergency health officials contend it’s allowed faster response to the most urgent calls, with less risk of traffic crashes caused by high-speed ambulances.

New Westminster Coun. Chuck Puchmayr, the new president of the LMLGA, said part of the problem is a shortage of ambulance paramedics in the Lower Mainland, as well as chronic congestion in the region’s hospitals.

“The hospitals are bursting at the seams with emergency patients and paramedics are not able to get back into the queue to respond to these other calls,” Puchmayr said. “They’re waiting there with patients to legally transfer them over to emergency department staff. And that’s causing a huge delay.”

Motions from Squamish and Langley City also demand provincial government aid to cover cities’ costs from firefighter first responders waiting longer for ambulances to arrive.

The province has previously refused to subsidize first responder programs, saying they’re voluntary and cities could save money by having them respond only to serious emergencies.

LMLGA delegates also voted to strongly oppose development of the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks coal export terminal and the planned expansion of Neptune Terminals in North Vancouver until Port Metro Vancouver conducts formal hearings and orders a more comprehensive health impact assessment on coal dust dangers.

“The chief medical health officer of Fraser Health has been calling for this for quite some time,” noted Port Moody Coun. Rick Glumac, who also serves on the LMLGA executive. “It seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable request.”

The LMLGA, which represents 33 municipal governments from Pemberton to Yale, voted to reject a motion from Burnaby to oppose provincial government changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve, although another motion passed seeking a freeze on the planned split of the ALR into two zones pending more consultation.

Also approved were:

– An Abbotsford demand that Health Canada disclose to municipalities the locations of previously licensed medical marijuana grow-ops so they can be inspected.

– A Chilliwack resolution opposing the use of farmland for medical marijuana production and urging the province to block the classification of new pot factories as farms qualifying for lower property tax rates.

– A call for the province to regulate party buses.

– A New Westminster request for senior government aid to retrofit older wood-frame apartment buildings and care homes with sprinkling systems.

– A motion asking Ottawa to further restrict use of older DOT-111 rail tanker cars implicated in the Lac Megantic oil fire disaster and legislate their accelerated replacement.

Just Posted

Signs in First Nations language go up at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley

‘It’s beyond joy, what I’m feeling’ at sight of signs: Kwantlen First Nation member

$2.9 million judgment in Langley blueberry farm sabotage lawsuit

The new owners saw most of their farm ruined just as they took possession

Cold weather warning issued for Langley

Homeless advised to seek shelter at Gateway of Hope

Langley council calls for changes after developer donations controversy

The province should review rules around donations, council voted

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperate breeding program

B.C.’s ‘Dr. Frankenstein of guns’ back in jail yet again for trafficking in Glock parts

Bradley Michael Friesen has parole revoked for allegedly importing gun parts yet again

B.C. woman suing after laser hair removal leaves her with ‘severe’ burns, scarring

Nadeau felt ‘far more pain’ than usual during the treatment

Union to prepare for picket lines, announce new measures in transit strike escalation

Unifor said the move comes after a ‘failure by the employer to make new offers at the bargaining table’

B.C. to more than double sales tax on vaping products

Tax up from 7 to 20 per cent, tobacco tax up two cents

29 B.C. students in Hong Kong amid tense protests, university siege

Eight UVic and 21 UBC students still in Hong Kong

‘Midget’ no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

Ottawa urges CN and union to continue talks as 3,200 workers go on strike

The rail workers began their strike after failing to reach a deal by a midnight deadline

Student tells B.C. Supreme Court she wasn’t allowed to leave Indigenous smudging ceremony

Girl cross-examined Monday in Nanaimo courtroom, case continues Tuesday

Most Read