VICTORIA -- A future oil spill response base will soon begin construction in the Sooke area of Vancouver Island.

The construction of a spill response base in Beecher Bay will give the community a major advantage in the event of an oil spill.

The Sc’ianew First Nation will work with Western Canada Marine Response to build the response base, which will employ 20 people upon its completion.

“This is going to protect the food of Beecher Bay and the Beecher Bay people... and protect the food of the island,” said Russ Chipps, Elected Chief of the Beecher Bay Band.

“There’s no spill response on this side of the coast and we are going to be that spill response on this side of the coast,” he said.

The base is part of a $150 million project that will see four other bases built in Sidney, Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Ucluelet. The Beecher Bay facility is designed to meet the requirements of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion.

When the pipeline project began, Beecher Bay realized it would take 72 hours to respond to a costal spill. With the new base, that response time drops significantly.

“I believe that the crew will be out there within 6 hours, but I’m pretty sure people like me with their own boats will be out there in 15 minutes,” said Chipps.

One environmental group, Wilderness Committee, agrees that these bases are needed, but says more needs to be done to get to the root of the problem.

“There’s no way to properly clean up a diluted bitumen spill. To say that another few bases offsets that risk just isn’t true,” said Wilderness Committee national campaign director Torrance Coste.

“We need to be investing in spill response, we need to be investing in marine safety, but we also need to be having a discussion about threats to this coastline and the fact that some projects shouldn’t be going ahead at all,” he said.

Construction of the Beecher Bay spill response base is expected to begin in late October with a completion date set for the fall of 2022.