MP Malcolmson calls on Trudeau Liberals to deny five deep-sea bulk anchorages off Gabriola Island
To prevent oil spills, protect local jobs and endangered species, for the second time, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson has asked the Prime Minister and federal Transport Minister to axe the application for five deep-sea bulk anchorages off Gabriola
December 19th, 2017 – 12:42pm
Ottawa, December 15, 2017
Dear Honourable Prime Minister and Minister Garneau,
Five commercial deep-sea freighter anchorages proposed for Gabriola Island’s northeast coast in the Salish Sea have been causing deep concern in my community for two years now.
Why have you kept the people of my community feeling under threat all this time? Again, I implore you to ask the Pacific Pilotage Authority to withdraw its application for five Gabriola deep-sea bulk anchorages.
In my former role as the Chair of the Islands Trust Council, I had direct experience with the threats and impacts of commercial anchorages on the residents and environment of this sensitive coastal region. Since my election as the Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, it has become more apparent that the deep-sea anchorages have no local benefit, they pose environmental, economic and social risks to my community and our coast, and they are creating great anxiety.
Cancelling the deep-sea anchorages would have the following benefits:
- Your government would demonstrate its respect for the rights of Indigenous communities, in particular the Snuneymuxw First Nation in whose territory the deep-sea anchorages are proposed. The Environmental Overview Assessment (EOA) has described the Gabriola anchorage review process so far as inadequate: “… the lack of Public/First Nations consultation leaves potential for significant effects to occur within social components, including those assessed within the EOA (i.e., noise, light and fisheries).”
- It might save our coast from an oil spill: six years ago three bulk carriers in Plumper Sound grounded or drifted very close to land during storms. “[The] incident [with the Hebei Lion] … posed a significant risk of a large black oil spill… Damage to fuel tanks on a cargo ship that size could have oiled the islands on both sides of the border.”
- It gives industry time to build good will and demonstrates that, with existing anchorages, it can mitigate impacts on neighbours, something that has not yet been done on our coast. Existing anchorages in Plumper Sound, Cowichan Bay and off Protection Island cause visual and diesel smoke pollution, engine and generator noise, and excessive light pollution, which industry has not mitigated. Surely the government will not approve redistributing these impacts to other coastal communities.
- Cancellation would be consistent with your government’s promise to make decisions based on science, facts and evidence. The anchorage proposal should not proceed as-is, because the Environmental Overview Assessment found “there is a lack of specific, quantitative information” and a “quantitative assessment of the Anchorage area was largely absent.”
- Cancellation would protect Species-At-Risk, consistent with your campaign commitment to honour the Species-At-Risk Act. Glass sponge reefs are threatened by deep-sea anchorages. The northeast coast of Gabriola Island is a transit and feeding area for the Southern Resident Orca, listed as endangered or threatened under the Species-at-Risk Act (ship noise and geolocation equipment threatens Orca whales by inhibiting their ability to communicate and find prey).
- Cancellation would prevent harm to other marine species. Otherwise, “marine mammals may be killed or injured by ship strike” and “anchor drag/scour causing localized destruction of fish habitat and individual fish mortality,” and “water quality, terrestrial mammals and marine birds, marine mammals, fish and aquatic habitat and Aboriginal, recreational and commercial fisheries, may be significantly impacted if a deleterious substance is released to the aquatic environment.”
- Cancellation would reinforce your government’s promise to persuade other countries to replace coal power. These deep-sea anchorages are proposed to accommodate the export of Wyoming coal to Chinese power plants. Every west coast port in the United States has refused to export Wyoming coal to China, and every BC municipality bordering the Port of Metro Vancouver opposed these exports as well.
- Cancellation is consistent with your promise to not foist development on unwilling communities. Elected bodies on record as opposed include the Gabriola Island Trust Local Committee, Islands Trust Council, and the Regional District of Nanaimo. As you said in your electoral platform: “While governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission.”
Canadians need to see your actions match your words. I believe your government’s credibility will be harmed if you approve the establishment of new commercial anchorages off Gabriola.
Moreover, your government should not rely on federal review processes and environmental laws undermined by the Harper government to assess the deep-sea anchorages proposal. Cancelling the anchorages would increase credibility of the federal government’s review of related environmental and regulatory processes, which include: restoring lost protections to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act, reviewing federal environmental assessment processes, adopting climate change legislation that includes upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions in environmental assessment reviews, implementing the Salish Sea National Marine Conservation Area, and implementing the federal government’s responsibilities under the Species At Risk Act.
Finally, your government cannot fairly conduct its three year Anchorages Initiative, announced November 16, 2017 “to identify new anchorage spots, draft best practices, and propose options for management and oversight of these anchorages”, while communities simultaneously fight off five new proposed anchorages. What credibility can your process have if new anchorages are approved outside the Anchorages Initiative, three years before it’s complete?
Frankly, our communities might constructively participate in all these reviews if they are not forced to simultaneously resist misguided project proposals and defend our coast.
In light of all the compelling arguments above, I request that you as Prime Minister and Transport Minister ask the Pacific Pilotage Authority to withdraw its application for five deep-sea bulk anchorages off Gabriola Island in the Salish Sea.
After a decade of fighting off bad projects, coastal communities are eager to engage on sustainable, job-creating initiatives. Please give us the space to do so by cancelling this misguided anchorage proposal.
Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith
Chief Mike Wyse, Snuneymuxw First Nation
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Robert Aubin, Member of Parliament for Trois-Rivières, NDP Transportation Critic
Linda Duncan, Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona, NDP Environment Critic
Fin Donnelly, Member of Parliament for Port Moody-Coquitlam, NDP Critic for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Kevin Obermeyer, Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Pilotage Authority
Peter Luckham, Chair, Islands Trust Council