Wednesday February 3, 2021 | DUNCAN, BC
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
Today Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) co-signed a joint letter to Canada’s newly appointed Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, along with Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour, Lyackson First Nation Chief Richard Thomas, Penelakut Tribe Chief Joan Brown, and Halalt First Nation Chief James Thomas.
Together the south Vancouver Island MP and First Nations leaders called for immediate consultations aimed at ending the current practice of freighter anchorages in the Southern Strait of Georgia.
The letter highlights the concerns of many island residents and stakeholders surrounding the anchored freighters. Specifically, noise and light concerns, as well as privacy infringement. The First Nations leaders also pointed to the lack of consultations when the anchorages were first established in their territorial waters.
The letter also voiced concerns surrounding the risks that the ships pose to the already-threatened, delicate marine ecosystems around which local First Nation culture and livelihoods are built.
Considering the recent fuel spill that forced an emergency closure of shellfish harvesting in Burgoyne Bay, the leaders wrote, “As you are aware, severe storms in the Southern Gulf Islands Region are not uncommon. There are regularly numerous freighters located within 400 meters of our shorelines, and a freighter dragging or breaking anchor and running adrift in such a storm would be potentially devastating to not only our beaches but the entire southern gulf.”
“There is too much at stake to quietly allow another Minister of Transportation to ignore this issue,” said MacGregor. “My Private Member’s Bill C-250 seeks to end the use of our coastal waters as an overflow industrial parking lot for the Port of Vancouver, and I will continue working with all concerned residents, stakeholders and community leaders to bring further attention to this issue.”