Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has expressed concerns about the excessive freighters parked in the Salish Sea for quite some time. (Photo submitted)

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has expressed concerns about the excessive freighters parked in the Salish Sea for quite some time. (Photo submitted)

MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has introduced a Private Member’s Bill in Ottawa to amend the Canada Shipping Act to prohibit the anchoring of freighter vessels using coastal waters along the Salish Sea.

It’s becoming a long-standing issue particularly for residents of Saltair, Chemainus, Thetis and Penelakut Islands, other Gulf Islands, Cowichan Bay, Ladysmith and Nanaimo.

“There have been many years of frustration in trying to address this issue with Transport Canada and Transport Minister Marc Garneau,” noted MacGregor in a statement. “Despite these efforts, the number of freighters, and the length of their stay at anchor off the southern coast of Vancouver Island, have both increased. In the absence of leadership from the federal government, I have decided that it is time put forward a bill to try and resolve this issue through legislative means.”

Some of the parked freighters are as large as 300 metres in size. In addition to the noise and light pollution, there are concerns about the affects to the marine environment.

The bill has support from First Nations, local government and community activist groups.

Repeated calls have been made by community groups and First Nations about protecting clam beds, prawns, oysters and endangered species, such as the southern resident killer whales, from the environmental impact of the anchored shipping vessels.

“The short- and long-term cumulative impacts on the marine ecosystems, local socio-economics, and pending disaster occurring while anchored or during transit to and from the Vancouver and Tsawwassen Port systems, need to be addressed,” stated Doug Fenton of Anchorages Concern Thetis. “The Southern Gulf Islands’ anchorage issues are an outstanding example of past practices going unmanaged and global corporations exploiting an aged mariners’ law for corporate gains.”

Related: Group taking action on increased freighter anchorages around Thetis Island

“For years, we’ve been calling on the federal government to work towards eliminating commercial freighters anchoring in the Southern Gulf Islands,” added Peter Luckham, chair of the Islands Trust Council. “It is wholly unacceptable for this region, recognized as having some of the world’s most sensitive ecosystems and many species at risk, to be used industrially as an overflow parking lot for the Port of Vancouver. Coastal communities have watched with dismay as the number of anchored vessels rises year after year while the federal government fails to act.”

“The Port of Vancouver’s inability to schedule and manage incoming bulk cargo ships efficiently is a problem with serious economic and environmental consequences,” pointed out Christopher Straw of the South Coast Ship Watch Alliance. “As that problem increasingly spills over into B.C.’s Southern Gulf Islands, it is creating a financial drain on our national economy and threatening the ecological health of one of Canada’s most environmentally rich and important marine ecosystems. It’s time for Canada’s Minister of Transport to bring an end to this problem by directing all parties involved to create a modern, efficient and safe vessel arrival system.”

Resident concerns have also been abundant, partly due to safety issues. Just last week, Saltair resident Mary Desprez noticed a freighter dragging anchor towards Boulder Point, coming within 730 metres of the shore according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo.

“Captains are authorized to move the ships in an emergency – without a pilot – so they engaged the engines and repositioned it,” she explained.

It drifted really close again the next day, Desprez noted.

In February 2018, Transport Canada initiated its Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages. The strategy is widely viewed by locals as a stopgap measure.

“The Interim Anchorages Protocol has proven to be totally inadequate in dealing with this problem,” MacGregor indicated. “The voluntary protocol measures installed by Transport Canada have been largely ignored and not enforced. Southern Vancouver Island and Gulf Island residents had hoped for, and deserve, more decisive action from their federal government.”

Through numerous round table discussions it became evident to MacGregor that First Nations were not consulted when the anchorages were first established.

“These freighters sometimes drag their anchor, disturbing our seabeds and harvesting areas,” noted Lyackson First Nation Chief Richard Thomas. “They have their lights on all night and make noise. They take away the beauty of our beaches. They harvest illegally and pollute our waters, and their proximity to our reserve lands makes our nation fearful of trespassers. We were never consulted on this and don’t support the freighters being in our waters.”

“Dialogue with government officials has confirmed that the pumping of ballast tanks, pumping of bilges, dragging of anchors, dumping of garbage and waste, and continuous noise from generators have combined to seriously threaten our livelihoods and traditional ways of life,” added Chief Joan Brown of Penelakut Tribe. “The federal government have the lawful obligation to consult with us prior to permitting freighter parking in our traditional waters. Penelakut Tribe have had absolutely no consultation from the Federal Government.”

The waters in the southern Salish Sea have been recognized by the federal government as part of its process in establishing a National Marine Conservation Area.

“If the federal government values these waters enough to establish a National Marine Conservation Area, then they also deserve protection from being used as an overflow industrial parking lot,” said MacGregor.

EnvironmentFederal Politics

 

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has expressed concerns about the excessive freighters parked in the Salish Sea for quite some time. (Photo submitted)

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has expressed concerns about the excessive freighters parked in the Salish Sea for quite some time. (Photo submitted)

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor with community leaders, from left: Ian Morrison (former CVRD chair), BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau, City of Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples, Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour, North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring and Cowichan Valley School District 79 Board Chair Candace Spilsbury. (Photo submitted)

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor with community leaders, from left: Ian Morrison (former CVRD chair), BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau, City of Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples, Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour, North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring and Cowichan Valley School District 79 Board Chair Candace Spilsbury. (Photo submitted)

Just Posted

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Island Health is expanding COVID-19 testing in Nanaimo with a new testing location at Vancouver Island University. (News Bulletin file photo)
Island Health issues apology over racist practices in health care system

Report by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond finds ‘widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people’

Kathy MacNeil, president and chief executive officer of Island Health, Dawn Thomas, acting deputy health minister and Island Health’s vice president, Indigenous health and diversity and Chief Don Tom of Tsartlip First Nation, stand out Saanich Peninsula Hospital Tuesday morning, when they also answered questions about a new report that “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in the provincial health care system. (Island Health/Submitted)
Head of Island Health says Saanich Peninsula Hospital not part of racist guessing game

Tsartlip First Nations Chief Don Tom welcomes changes following report but promises future scrutiny

An air ambulance leaves West Coast General Hospital for a trauma centre at 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12 after a Port Alberni youth was injured in an accident on the Somass River. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO
COVID-19 outbreaks at pair of Vancouver Island Hospitals

Saanich Peninsula Hospital in Saanichton and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni affected

Penny Hart is calling on the community to help find her son Sean Hart who was last seen on Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Search spreads for Saanich man missing from mental health facility for nearly a month

Family hopeful as possible sightings reported across Island and in Vancouver

A pickup truck was involved in an incident 9:30 p.m. Nov. 30. A witness who took the photo says the truck left the roadway, knocked over a fire hydrant before hitting a parked van and coming to rest in a yard. Photo by Michael Hack
VIDEO: Island pick-up truck takes out numerous vehicles, fire hydrant and hits house

Investigation underway after incident on the side of Campbell River street

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

The IIO’s chief civilian director has cleared Victoria police of any wrongdoing in the Nov. 21 death of a man they had earlier arrested. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation clears Victoria police of wrongdoing in arrested man’s death

Police watchdog determined police action or inaction played no role in man’s death

A West Shore man has been handed two tickets for failing to wear a mask after causing a disturbance at a coffee shop in View Royal and gas station in Langford. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man ticketed twice for refusing to wear mask in same day, say West Shore RCMP

Police ask businesses to report incidences when they occur

Protesters stand in front of a truck carrying logs to the WFP Ladysmith log sort. (Cole Schisler photo)
Protesters block entrance to Western Forest Products in Ladysmith

Blockade cleared by Ladysmith RCMP around noon, December 2

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

Most Read