In two separate events this month, Nanaimo/Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson and members of Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages took concerns about proposed commercial freighter anchorages off the NW coast of Gabriola Island, directly to decision makers in Ottawa.
On Friday October 21 Malcolmson tabled the first in series of petitions containing over 5,000 signatures demanding the Minister of Transport put a halt to plans to establish the anchorages.
“These anchorages are intended to transport Wyoming coal to China exacerbating climate change. There are risks of an oil spill and having anchors scour the sensitive seabed which will interfere with commercial and recreational fishing in the region.” said Malcolmson as she rose in the House of Commons.
“I am disappointed that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport have not replied to my call to urge the proponent to withdraw their application. Thank you to the community organizers for raising the alarm and advocating for the government to take leadership on this important economic and environmental issue.”
You can watch MP Malcolmson’s statement in Parliament here: [watch the video on our Facebook page]
On October 12th, Franz Gigl, President of Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages and GAFA Vice President, Chris Straw, travelled to Ottawa to meet with senior officials in the federal government and relay the community’s concerns directly to the offices of the Ministers of Transport and Small Business and Tourism.
The two met with Shane McCloskey, Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s Senior Policy Advisor for Marine Issues about the impact the proposed anchorages would have on our community and discussed the possibility of alternative solutions to The Port of Vancouver ‘s marine traffic problems.
“Ultimately it’s the Minister of Transport who oversees shipping and issues such as anchorages and we welcomed the opportunity to sit down with someone who works closely with Minister Garneau for a frank conversation”. said Gigl. “He got a full briefing on why Gabriolans and many other BC residents are opposed to this anchorage proposal and how frustrated they are with the process to date.”
Gigl went on to say, “We made it clear that Gabriolans understand the importance of trade to the Canadian economy and the role that shipping plays in that trade. But providing free parking for foreign ships instead of fixing inefficiencies at the Port of Vancouver does nothing to improve trade. What it does do, is pose serious environmental and economic risks for Gabriola.”
The GAFA representatives also met with senior staff in the Ministry of Small Business and Tourism where they talked about local efforts to build a sustainable economy on Gabriola and the importance of ecotourism to the Gulf Islands Region. They then painted a picture of the impact the anchorages would have on the Gabriola economy.
“It wasn’t hard for the officials we spoke with to understand what the presence of 300 metre freighters anchored in the middle of a pristine and productive, sports fishing, kayaking and boating area would have on our ability to attract visitors.” Said GAFA VP, Chris Straw.
Recent correspondence from both the federal government and members of the shipping industry show that the proposal to designate anchorages off Gabriola’s coast is still under consideration. No clear timeline for a decision has been given.