No free parking for ships

Editorial

Tuesday, July 19 2016

In last week’s Sounder, a report from Alaska was quoted as saying a single fixed buoy, capable of holding a 65,000 tonne vessel in the Aleutians, would cost $10 million per buoy.

There are five (5) anchorages being considered for permanent approval off Gabriola’s north-east shoreline. 

So far the Pacific Pilotage Authority has not said if that $10 million is accurate for what a buoy would cost. Kevin Obermeyer from the PPA has said the water depth between Vancouver Island and Vancouver does not lend itself to placing a permanent mooring, and such a mooring would cause significant damage to the sea-bed.

Bottom line though, is the proponents of these anchorages represent a shipping industry with millions, if not billions, of dollars being circulated to keep the transportation lines open.

These proposed five anchorages - as well as the existing anchorages throughout the southern gulf islands - represent the shipping version of a free parking space.

To be used when there is not space left, or big enough, in Port Vancouver or Port Nanaimo.

The problem is for those who live throughout gulf islands, not just on Gabriola’s north-east shore, the cost of having these vessels used these free parking spots is far from free.

There’s more to it than a spoiled viewpoint. There’s the noise, the light pollution at night, dealing with ships taking on or off-loading cargo to smaller ships capable of entering into harbour, and many more. There’s also the potential impact on the sport and commercial fisheries off Gabriola and throughout the gulf islands.

Anchorages, where every ship using the spot drops a new anchor down, can’t possibly be any better on the seabed environment than a stationary fixed buoy.

Whether the accurate cost per fixed buoy is $10 million or not, gulf island residents should not be bearing the cost of the shipping industry’s parking problem. Saying it falls within the ‘national’ interest is disingenuous. It is in the interest of those industries dependent on getting goods to market.

If the Chamber of Shipping and PPA are truly taking a fresh look at their parking issue, they need to be prepared to put the costs of the parking issue back on those using the spots.  And very much consider moving said spots away from the gulf islands.