The Issue

The pristine waters of the Southern Gulf Islands are under threat. The Port of Vancouver wants to expand its reach in the area, proposing five new anchorage sites along the northeast shore of Gabriola Island. This is a very bad idea that must be stopped.

Kayaker Is dwarfed by a freighter

The current situation is already dire: enormous bulk cargo freighters are anchoring at 33 sites throughout the Southern Gulf Islands, emitting harmful particulates and greenhouse gases, destroying critical habitat and foundation species that are vital for the survival of Chinook and endangered southern resident killer whales, and posing a risk of catastrophic oil spills. These ships arrive and stay for as long as they want, without paying anything for the privilege, and are not subject to the strict anchoring rules that apply to ships docked inside ports.

Whenever elimination of freighter anchoring in SGI waters is raised, the response from Transport Canada, the Port and the shipping industry is the same – “we need them” – but they have never backed that up with proof of need. In fact, anchoring in the SGI has increased nine times as fast as the increase in export of bulk cargoes in the past three years. Allowing freighters to loiter in SGI waters does nothing to improve port productivity.

At the same time, the Port has commissioned no independent studies to examine reforms to Port infrastructure and practices that would reduce demand for anchorages, such as restricting ship arrival times, addition of fixed mooring buoys in Port waters, and improving timely arrival of grain shipments.

There are already 34 anchorages within the Vancouver Port, six more within Nanaimo Port Authority, and ten more off Victoria, Esquimalt, and Royal Roads. The onus should be on the Port to prove that these are not enough, and that they need ANY additional anchorages outside Port waters.

We cannot allow this expansion to go forward. We need to protect the Southern Gulf Islands, their delicate ecosystem, and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. We must oppose the Port of Vancouver‘s expansion.