This Union Bay beach area shows iron staining at low tide from March 2010. Photo, JET Productions

This Union Bay beach area shows iron staining at low tide from March 2010. Photo, JET Productions

Commercial marina again proposed for Union Bay

A previous proposal was denied due to sediment contamination

A commercial marina currently proposed for Union Bay is under scrutiny from an area watchdog group.

According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and RuralDevelopment, Union Bay Estates has applied to the ministry for an investigative licence for a commercial marina. It covers a few lots, as well as unsurveyed Crown foreshore or land covered by water. The investigative licence is temporary and would run for a two-year period.

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Dorrie Woodward, president of the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards, points to information from a decade ago, during a previous proposal for a commercial marina at Union Bay, in order to raise questions about the safety of dredging or other activities after decades of old industry on site.

According to Woodward, the area had served as a port for coal industry activities and had built up materials such as heavy metals that could pose a risk to the marine ecosystem in the Baynes Sound area, and by extension, humans.

“All of that is there beneath the sediments,” Woodward says. “It’s only in those … sediments that the past comes back to haunt us…. Stuff starts at the bottom of the food web and moves up.”

Woodward cites a report with technical comments from UBC marine researcher Dr. Juan Jose Alava that notes the presence of materials such as copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, mercury and aluminum, among others.

As well, Woodward refers to an August 2009 decision denying the applicant, listed as 34083 Yukon Inc., an investigative licence for a commercial permit – specifically for test drilling to determine the suitability of the area for pile driving for a marina. Again, the reasoning for the decision refers to potential site contamination from the coal industry.

“Clearly, the application didn’t meet those requirements and they just said, ‘Go away,’” Woodward says. “What has changed? Where are tests? Where is the plan that would keep everything safe.”

The VI Free Daily has contacted representatives from UBE and the provincial government about the proposal.

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