The Cowichan Valley Regional District wants the federal government to take a close look the use of commercial vessel anchorages that are located in waters near the district
In a letter to Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, Ian Morrison, chairman of the CVRD, said the board understands the need to provide foreign vessels engaged in international commerce with safe harbour while they await loading at the Port of Vancouver.
But he said that over the past decade, this vessel traffic has increased significantly, as has the amount of time these vessels dwell at anchorage.
“Our constituents are concerned with the amount of noise, light and environmental pollution generated by these vessels, as well as the lack of federal oversight and regulatory regime in place to monitor them,” Morrison said.
“The board is also concerned that appropriate consultation with local First Nations, respective of their rights and title, has not been adequately addressed with regards to anchorages and large-vessel traffic within their traditional territories.”
There are 33 commercial vessel anchorages located throughout the southern Gulf Islands, including six in operation in Cowichan Bay and six near Ladysmith and Saltair harbours.
The CVRD’s board unanimously voted at its meeting on July 24 to send a letter to Garneau after a presentation by Peter Holmes, president of the Cowichan Bay Ship Watch Society, who wants to see the anchorages in Cowichan Bay eliminated.
Holmes told the board that the society strongly opposes the irresponsible lack of concern by both the provincial and federal governments in regards to the potential for environmental damage and pollution from bulk freighters that are parking free in local waters.
Staff wrote the letter, and the board approved it at its meeting on Aug. 14.
In the letter to Garneau, Morrison said the CVRD shares the position of the Islands Trust Council in its belief that, despite Transport Canada’s Ocean Protection Plan and the Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages, more needs to be done to ensure local waters are protected and the citizens of the CVRD are not adversely impacted by commercial activities that have no local economic or social benefit.