Transport Canada remains silent on ending anchorages proposal

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, February 13 2018

A meeting between Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau and the Islands Trust Executive Committee was cancelled this past week by the Minister.

The agenda for the meeting had been anchorages in the southern gulf islands, including the five still being proposed off Gabriola’s northeast shoreline.

Opponents of those anchorages have been waiting for an interim policy for management of anchorages on Canada’s west coast - so far there has been no such policy put in place. It was hoped that discussions between the Islands Trust and the Minister might see that finally happening.

According to Annie Joannette, Senior Communications Advisor with Transport Canada, Minister Garneau was not able to make the meeting due to scheduling changes.

She said an announcement regarding anchorages will be forthcoming in 2018. 

She did not say whether that announcement is part of the interim measures or a longer-term announcement. 

Joannette said that “under the Oceans Protection Plan Anchorages Initiative, the Government of Canada will work to reduce marine traffic congestion by developing a national framework. This framework will guide a formal process to identify anchorages and manage vessels anchored outside of port boundaries.”

Chris Straw, President of the Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages, said, “Our feeling is, there are currently 79 available anchorages to ships throughout the Salish Sea. 

“We don’t think they need any more; if anything, we believe through better efficiencies, they [the shipping industry and Port Vancouver] would require much fewer.”

Gabriolan Sheila Malcolmson, MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, stood up during Question Period this past Friday in the House of Commons saying, “Gabriola Island opposes new freighter anchorages proposed off our shores. 

“For Wyoming coal exports to China there is zero local benefit. Our Chamber of Commerce, local governments, and fishermen all say bulk anchorages threaten the community and the sensitive ecology of our coast.

“The Liberals promised no projects without social license, and promised reports on consultation that are missing. Now that habitat protection has been restored to the Fisheries Act it reveals that this review was faulty. Will the Minister listen to Gabriolans and stop these bulk anchorages now?”

She was answered by Terry Beech, Liberal MP for Burnaby-Mt. Seymour, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Beech said, “Our government is pleased to be delivering on our promise to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act. These proposed amendments will restore lost protections by returning to comprehensive protections against harming fish and fish habitats, and strengthening the role of indigenous peoples and project reviews, monitoring and policy.

“Our government will also invest more than $280 million to support the restoration of lost protections to fish and to incorporate modern safeguards. We have consulted broadly to ensure that changes to the Act focus on those areas that matter the most to Canadians.”

Malcolmson spoke to the Sounder afterwards saying her question was not meant to be part of a bigger discussion around the government’s return to environmental protection.

“Rather it was a precise question asking the Minister to stop these bulk anchorages now.

“We are very disappointed that the Parliamentary Secretary did not answer the serious concerns of my community, especially since Terry grew up a stone’s throw away. I also sent a letter on Dec. 14 to the Transport Minister, and I still have not received a reply.”