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Controversial Vancouver Island shipbreaking operation continues despite injunction

Comox Valley Regional District pursuing legal action against Deep Water Recovery in Union Bay
Another barge being towed into Union Bay Tuesday night. Photo supplied

A shipbreaking business continues to operate in Union Bay, even though the Comox Valley Regional District board had approved in January an injunction to halt the operation because it contravenes zoning bylaws.

Deep Water Recovery (DWR) runs the operation at 5084 Island Highway South. The CVRD started to receive bylaw complaints about shipbreaking in March 2020. Upon reviewing information related to use at the site, district staff determined that shipbreaking activities are not covered under the Industrial Marine (IM) zone in the bylaw. An application for a Temporary Use Permit or a zoning bylaw amendment is required, but DWR did not apply before a deadline.

In a statement, the CVRD says it is “pursuing legal action to see the shipbreaking use cease on this property.”

READ: Directors say shipbreaking a non-compliant use in Union Bay

READ: Comox Valley Regional District board deems shipbreaking a non-permitted use

Mark Jurisich of DWR has not returned calls for comment.

“He’s (Jurisich) in clear violation and non-compliance of the FLNRO (B.C. Forests Ministry) foreshore lease, and the CVRD bylaws,” said Ray Rewcastle of the Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound (CCOBS). “He’s blatantly in violation, and yet nobody’s doing anything about it.”

The CCOBS and the K’ómoks First Nation say that shipbreaking at this site is threatening Baynes Sound, in terms of leaching asbestos and other hazardous materials into the ocean.

Rewcastle criticizes the ministry for ignoring DWR’s violation of the foreshore lease.

“DFO, they clearly said to me that their biggest concerns, outside of pollution leaking into the water, is if a vessel is sitting on the ocean floor. You can clearly see that the two ships are sitting on the ground when the tide goes out. And they’re probably sitting on the ground when the tide’s in.”

The group says that three old vessels are sitting in the water and four are docked on land. One of them is the Queen of Burnaby, which was retired from the BC Ferries’ fleet in 2017.

“With our vessel refit season coming to a close, more space is available at BC Ferries’ refit facility in Richmond,” BC Ferries said in a statement. “As a result, the Queen of Burnaby will be relocating back to the facility while we actively evaluate options for recycling the ship that comply and follow all safety and environmental procedures, regulations, and legislation.”

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