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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

(Village of Sayward)
Sayward elects new mayor and two council members

New mayor-elect Mark Baker and council members will be sworn in on Dec. 1.

The Strathcona Regional District received Safe Restart funding from the provincial government. File photo
SRD receives provincial safe restart funding

Allocation of funds to be determined by staff

Jessi Vanderveen (left), healthyway Assistant supplements manager, and Tara Jordan, CR KidStart Coordinator,  announce that Healthyway Natural Foods will match in-store donations to John Howard KidStart on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, up to $1,000. Photo contributed
Help John Howard KidStart on Giving Tuesday

John Howard KidStart needs your help this Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1. Two… Continue reading

Pathway To Freedom, a non-profit society based in Surrey, wants to open two men’s addiction recovery houses in Campbell River as early as next April. Metro Creative photo
Two new addictions recovery houses could be on their way to Campbell River

‘I just want to help. That’s my hometown. And enough is enough.’

Ian Baikie shows the new booths at the Harbourside Inn restaurant space, which is being converted to a community kitchen for Campbell River’s population of vulnerable people. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
PHOTOS: New community kitchen coming to Campbell River

Kitchen will provide a safe, warm place for vulnerable population to eat in downtown core

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Black Creek actress finds success in a virtual world

Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Most Read