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 problem freighter anchorages

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 roundtable 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 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)

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)

Freighter parked back out farther from shore after drifting in too close off Saltair last week. (Photo submitted)

Freighter parked back out farther from shore after drifting in too close off Saltair last week. (Photo submitted)

Just Posted

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Cowichan MP hosting virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MP’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Santa will be in Honeymoon Bay on Dec. 13. (File photo)
Santa to visit Honeymoon Bay on Dec. 13

Families must call ahead due to pandemic

“Say cheese, uh, apple… nine-year-old Jason Moran and mum Bonnie are all smiles over a number of sales made during “apple day” of local cubs and beavers. Jason, a wolf cub, was one of 22 boys who, with the ready assistance of mothers, sold several boxes of apples in money-raising scheme for various projects.” (<em>The Lake News</em> Nov. 26, 1980)
Flashback: Crime wave, canoe misfortune and a highway lawsuit

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Following too closely

Maintaining a buffer in front of your vehicle gives you time to recover from inattention

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism widespread

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

The Nov. 20 WestJet flight 3171 has been identified by the BC Centre for Disease Control with a COVID case aboard. (Black Press file photo)
Fifth COVID-19 exposure reported on flight at Comox airport

Another exposure risk from flight originating in Calgary

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

Most Read