Will Burns Lake become a terrorism target in a few years?
The question may seem like a strange one, but it’s similar to concerns being raised about security at the Prince Rupert container port which will be opening its first phase in 2007.
Its proponents have been bragging about how it will be bigger than the container port in Vancouver. Bigger also means a bigger target, some people have pointed out.
It’s not so much a question of being a target for traditional warfare. Canada has no enemies in the world right now, so the chances of a foreign navy suddenly showing up at Prince Rupert are quite remote.
There are, however, security concerns around terrorist attacks. And while we in Burns Lake may think we’re sheltered from such concerns, we really aren’t.
There has been a lot of talk around Burns Lake recently about a truck route or bypass being needed to keep the increase flow of heavy trucks to and from Prince Rupert away from the village centre. There is also a very strong possibility an oil pipeline will be built in the next few years from the Alberta oil sands to either Prince Rupert or Kitimat.
While Prince Rupert will be the obvious focus of security because that’s where everything comes together, what about the communities, such as Burns Lake, which are on the route all those goods will be taking to get to and from the port?
But there are also safety concerns which need to be looked at, not just for Prince Rupert, but for places like Burns Lake.
Our emergency-repsonse group is going to have to stay on top of plans for the truck route and pipeline to make sure it knows what the possible dangers are. Everyone has been talking a lot about how many trucks and railcars will be moving in and out of Prince Rupert when the new port opens, but there has been little discussion about what they will be carrying.
Are there going to be railcars and trucks of chemicals which we have not had through here before? What are the dangers if something happens to one of them?
The first phase of the port opens in 2007. These questions need to be asked – and answered – before then.