Rural Comox Valley Regional District directors consider a controverisal Union Bay shipbreaking operation to be a non-compliant.
A district committee has recommended calling for an injunction to halt the operation of Deep Water Recovery (DWR) because it contravenes zoning bylaws. The recommendation will be considered by the CVRD board at its Feb. 15 meeting.
The district first received bylaw complaints about shipbreaking in March 2020, reviewed its bylaws and informed DWR that shipbreaking is not allowed. The B.C. Forests Ministry (MoFLNRO) issued a water lease in October 2021 that allows DWR moorage and storage of vessels on the water, and transit of vessels to the shore. The lease does not authorize dismantling of vessels on the foreshore.
The district gave DWR a Jan. 17 deadline to respond, but has not received an application.
In addition to the injunction, staff recommends addressing the issue of “trespass and land alteration” at Glover Community Nature Park, if DWR fails to apply for development permits and undertake “any necessary remediation,” as stated in a staff report.
A community group dubbed the Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound, along with the K’ómoks First Nation, have said DWR’s operation is threatening Baynes Sound. They are concerned that shipbreaking poses a risk to human and environmental health due to asbestos and other materials on old vessels.
The CCOBS is pleased with the work and recommendations in the CVRD staff report, and with the committee’s unanimous vote. They now question if MoFLNRO will issue a cease and desist order to the foreshore lease.
“If the operator cannot shipwreck or dismantle on the land, why would the FLNR continue to let the operator moor or transport vessels, etc., across the foreshore?” Ray Rewcastle said.
In a recent interview, DWR owner Mark Jurisich said his operation is not shipbreaking. He prefers to call it dismantling, while he considers shipbreaking to be “a disorganized mess.”
Jim Drummond, facility manager of Canadian Maritime Engineering’s shipyard in Nanaimo, considers shipbreaking and dismantling to be synonymous terms.
“No matter which way you slice it, it’s the same thing,” Drummond said.