An oil spill response team in Beecher Bay
Plus, Langford-based national rugby team wins tourney
Today we have a photo series from photojournalist James MacDonald following the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) crew in Beecher Bay. The Beecher Bay base is the newest of the four bases spread around Vancouver Island that responds to oil spill emergencies and spills on the coast.
Make sure to see the full photo series and get a real insider’s look at how this crew works.
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Inside Canada’s first spill-response organization on the West Coast
The Race Sentinel maneuvers around Spirit Bay on the South Island, as part of the Beecher Bay crew runs through a Geographic Response Strategies (GRS) verification and boom laying exercise. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Everything is electric blue.
The April sky, the waters of the Juan de Fuca, and the crystal clear Olympic mountains across the strait on the American side.
Carving a white trail across the water’s surface, the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) landing craft, the Race Sentinel, tears off towards Race Rocks located off the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
Founded in 1976 as Canada’s first spill-response organization, WCMRC is responsible for huge swaths of the 27,000 kilometres of British Columbia coastline. It has been responding to oil spill emergencies and spills on the coast for close to five decades; it averages 20 responses per year.
Today it is a practice and training deployment for the Beecher Bay crew, as it runs through boom deployment and geographic response strategies (GRS) verification of sensitive and important sites along the south coast of the Island. The Beecher Bay base is the newest of the four bases spread around Vancouver Island.
Tarpan Roy, the base operations supervisor, says the WCMRC plays an integral role in and around the Island’s waters.
“With the forecasted increase of vessel traffic in the Strait [of Juan de Fuca] as well as the Salish Sea, there is always a potential of risk when it comes to oil spills. Our role is to provide safe and effective oil spill response in the area,” he says.
“That means knowing our working area extremely well, understanding the potential risks, working with local stakeholders and communities, and ensuring we are always response ready to be able to react to any potential scenarios.”
With some of the most wild, rugged, and remote coastline in the world, regions of BC and the Island can present challenging scenarios, and areas that are in need of geographic strategies and protection in the case of a spill. Partnerships with Island First Nations can help fill those gaps, says Roy.
“First Nations along the coast are experienced mariners and their timeless history along the coast means they have extensive knowledge of where key sensitivities may be that we can protect by deploying geographic response strategies. Many First Nations communities are remote, and through working together under our Coastal Response Program, First Nations can become first responders on our behalf, thereby reducing our response times.
“Fortunately for us here in the South Island, we have not had too many incidents that we have been tasked to,” says Roy.
But with events like the Zim Kingston fire in 2021, and the much more recent sinking and subsequent recovery last week of a sunken fuel truck on the east side of the Island in the Johnstone Strait, there is the ever present reminder of the threat to the coastline and the need to protect it.
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Langford-based men’s Canada Rugby Sevens team will stay in world’s top league
Photo: Rugby Canada
A thrilling, literally last-minute victory over Kenya in a must-win weekend tournament has kept the Canada Rugby Sevens men in the 2024 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. That league of the world’s best is contracting from 16 to 12 men’s teams next year to match the women’s league and Olympic tourney. After faltering in recent years Canada has been in the danger zone.
After a quarterfinal finish at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, the men’s program lost many of the core veterans, including former UVic star and Canada’s co-flagbearer Nathan Hirayama, who retired as #3 all time in World Sevens Series scoring (1,859 points).
Close games and comebacks in a nail-biting weekend
With two teams already cut, the season’s final weekend saw London’s Twickenham Stadium pit 14th-ranked Canada vs. Kenya (13), Uruguay (12), and lower-tiered upstart Tonga for the sole remaining spot.
Canada had momentum coming in, having finished a season-best (by far) fourth in France the weekend before with comfortable wins over Kenya and Uruguay. But Canada lost Saturday’s opener to Kenya, an early lead curdling into a 24-19 loss in the final minute of the game.
That made each remaining game must-win, and Canada came back over Uruguay to stay narrowly alive 21-19 before blowing out Tonga 43-7 and securing top spot on point differential when all relegation candidates finished 2–1.
The finale was then a rematch with Kenya, with the outcome either ending Canada’s decade as a core team, or Kenya’s two decades. This too went down to the last minute, with a 7-7 tie game. But this time it was Canada scoring as the clock wound down. The ball crossed the field through all seven players before finding home in a try by Alex Russell, who earlier hung a hat trick on Tonga, to leave it 12-7.
Around the 'Shore
🛍️ Royal Bay shopping centre opens today: The Commons opens today at 345 Latoria with Quality Foods and Cascadia Liquor as two of its retailers. The retail village expects to add services such as dental, pharmacy, insurance, banking, and restaurants later this year. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9am.
🏗️ Sooke approves 98-unit Harbourview project: Council approved the mixed-use three-building project that will include 91 rental suites in an eight-storey apartment block, a three-storey mixed-use building with seven townhomes and retail space, and a one-storey commercial building. The buildings will be on Goodmere Road and Lanark Road, in the vacant portion of the Mariner’s Village property. [Citified]
🐉 Victoria Chinatown Museum Society’s Awakening Chinatown returns May 28 with an afternoon of free festivities including Chinese cultural performances, music, magic, dancing, kung fu, and Lion Parade.*
🚒 Langford firefighters respond to seven fires in seven days: The fire department is reminding residents to safely discard cigarettes, especially during wildfire season. All seven fires were caused by cigarette butts and were all preventable. [Global]
🏡 An exciting new collection of modern homes offering the flexibility to fit your lifestyle. Start your dream in the Southlands at Royal Bay. Register now.*
🏢Proposal for View Royal’s former Helmcken Market location: Developer WestUrban has submitted a rezoning application for a six-storey project that will include office, retail, and residential units. The project is pending as it awaits municipal approvals. [Citified]
🍁 As your Member of Parliament, Alistair MacGregor can assist you with federal agencies, and help explain how he’s bringing Langford and Westshore voices to Ottawa.*
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🎵 Music in the Park: Head to Herm Williams Park in Colwood on Friday, May 26 for a performance by Freeze Frame that will get you singing and dancing.
🏖️ Beach Food in Colwood: Head to Lagoon Beach in Colwood for Beach Food every Friday to Sunday in the summer. This Saturday, May 27, catch a musical performance from West Coast Soul Collective.
🍃 Scotch broom drop-off: Get rid of the invasive scotch broom in your yard and drop it off at the District of Sooke Parks Yard this Saturday, May 27 between 1 and 4pm.
⚽ Pacific FC vs. Halifax Wanderers: Catch the game this Saturday, May 27 at 7pm at the Starlight Stadium.
🥊 Sooke Boxing Stiff Jab: Catch this Canada vs. Mexico amateur boxing match hosted by the Sooke Boxing Club on Saturday, May 27. Tickets are $30.
🎼 Greater Victoria Police Chorus Spring Concert: The concert will take place at Lambrick Park Church in Saanich on Sunday, May 28 from 2 to 4pm. Tickets are $25 and donations for Ukrainian Relief will be accepted at the door.
Still no ships!
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Becky Orser, an elder of the T’souke Nation, and a teepee at Saseenos Elementary School in Sooke last week. — Fred Whittaker, Sooke
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