Gulf Islands economy at risk with proposed anchorages

Editorial

Tuesday, August 11 2015

This past week, Kevin Obermeyer (CEO of Pacific Pilotage Authority) was giving an interview on CBC Radio, in which he explained the many reasons there are anchorages being proposed off Gabriola’s north-east shore for Capesize vessels. Note: Capesize ships are the largest dry cargo ships. They are too large to transit the Suez Canal or Panama Canal and as such have to pass either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn to traverse between oceans.

In other words, these ships are big. Obermeyer was correct when he pointed out they are major component of a resource-based economy, and more ships will be showing up on Canada’s west coast as we send/sell our resources overseas.

The problem is parking these vessels within the Gulf Islands puts other components of the provincial economy at risk.

Few visitors are going to come from around the world, to stay somewhere that the view is blocked by ships literally larger than a US Navy aircraft carrier. So this proposal, and the continued operation of anchorages further south near Duncan, harms the Gulf Island tourism economy.

Then there’s the sport fishing in the immediate Gabriola area.

Also off Gabriola’s north-east shore line is ‘The Grande’ (dubbed after the Grande Hotel now known as Dragons’ Lodge). This shelf, along with Thrasher Rock, brings hundreds of sport fishers in to the Gabriola waterways every year, many of them spending multiple nights at the marinas and enjoying our island.

Draw a line from the northern-most proposed anchorage to the southern-most proposed anchorage, and it follows almost the exact same track fishing boats on the Grande would follow.

Planting massive anchors and buoys in to those fishing grounds and having Capesize ships tie up to them puts every level of the Grande’s ecosystem at risk.

As has been pointed out by members of AnchorRAGE, the companies who operate these ships need to be held accountable, and made to keep a schedule which sees them arrive (more or less) on time in Port Vancouver - rather than needing ‘free’ overload parking created in the Gulf Islands. While the ships and their cargo may be contributing to a larger national (or at least provincial) economy, they cannot and should not be allowed to put the local economies of the Gulf Islands at risk to do so.