Vancouver Island

BC, Canada

Title

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deseet oasis

Desert Oasis open letter

The Honourable Marc Garneau, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Transport
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0N5

Sent by email: mintc@tc.gc.ca, marc.garneau@parl.gc.ca

 

Saltair, December 16, 2018

Dear Minister Garneau:

Re: Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages / Ladysmith Saltair Area

How long is too long to have a freighter idling 24/7 in an outside of Port anchorage, accumulating industrial nuisance for coastal communities?

 

Here is the compelling case of the DESERT OASIS: the week of October 24, 2018, this vessel was provided with a first assignment to a LADYSMITH/SALTAIR anchorage; as of December 14, it is still parked in the same area.

 

The DESERT OASIS has been anchored for the most part of the last two months in 3 different anchorages in LADYSMITH/SALTAIR. The Interim Protocol has generously provided three assignments for this 225m vessel that was sent to park each time at an anchorage in very close proximity to shore. Meanwhile, many residents endure the stress and nuisance of the loud noise of its generators, idling 24/7.

 

Our community has raised the issue of having the LADYSMITH/SALTAIR historical anchorages re-activated by the Interim Protocol with no risk assessment and no socio-economic and environmental studies. These anchorages were designated in the 70s not taking into account the large size of modern vessels. We have brought this issue to the attention of the Parliament of Canada, Transport Canada, Port of Vancouver, Pacific Pilotage Authority, and BC Chamber of Shipping as well as the many concerns of the cumulative damages these industrial vessels generate for the seabed, and threats to marine life and coastal ecosystem.

 

Despite the abundance of complaints and the evidence of nuisance, nothing has been done to alleviate the usage of these anchorages. On the contrary, during the fall of 2018, the Interim Protocol has assigned so many vessels to anchor in the LADYSMITH/SALTAIR area that it has resulted in an increase of usage of historical anchorages by 2,000%. This is a serious threat to our environment.

 

The inaction of the Interim Protocol on environmental issues raises serious concerns about the ability of the Interim Protocol to protect our coasts and deliver on its promises as part of the Ocean Protection Plan.

 

Now looking back at the DESERT OASIS, it is the perfect example of the risk of having for-profit marine shipping corporations taking advantage of a free for all parking lot at the expense of local coastal communities. It is a well-known fact that there is currently a global oversupply of bulk carriers and ship owners are looking for ways to save on idling costs and pocket demurrage fees.

 

The Interim Protocol contributes to the very profitable activities of the Port of Vancouver by providing ship owners with a free outside of Port anchorage and no questions asked. For the past two months, the DESERT OASIS has refueled at the Port but has not moved any goods, however, no one is asking why this vessel is staying here.

 

Last week, we saw people that looked like crewmembers disembarking with backpacks and luggage. Even after residents reported this observation, it does not seem any inquiry is conducted to assess if the entire crew of the DESERT OASIS is still on board. There is no physical surveillance for outside of Port anchorages and the risk of illegal activities is not mitigated.

 

The Interim Protocol was created with the goal of reducing the impact of anchorages on coastal communities and making sure no one community is overwhelmed. After 10 months in action, we would expect it would take corrective actions to react to abusive anchoring situations and vessels that are not complying with the Interim Protocol.

 

The Interim Protocol is well within its prerogative to discontinue the assignment provided to the DESERT OASIS and inform the vessel that it is no longer welcome to occupy this LADYSMITH/SALTAIR anchorage. This will send a message to the Marine Shipping Industry that self-regulation is needed and that anchorage assignments are not provided forever, and for no reason.

 

Considering the current jurisdictional void, it is not clear what will be the reaction of the vessel’s captain and vessel’s agent, but it is about time that the Interim Protocol demonstrates its willingness to fulfill its mission, and protect the interest of coastal communities in the face of such blatant abuse.

 

Let’s hope the story of the DESERT OASIS was a one-time occurrence and that lessons will be learned to make this kind of abuse a thing of the past. By the time we completed the final edit of this letter, finally, we have seen the DESERT OASIS leaving its anchorage on Dec 15.

Yours Truly,
SALTAIR OCEAN PROTECTION COMMITTEE
https://www.facebook.com/saltairoceanprotection/
Contact: saltair.anchorage@gmail.com

CC: TC.PacificAnchorages-Acragesdupacifique.TC@tc.gc.ca,
alain.paquet@tc.gc.ca, luc.brisebois@tc.gc.ca,
stephen.lucas@canada.ca, michael.keenan@tc.gc.ca,
harbour_master@portvancouver.com, nmcevoy@npa.ca,
oberkev@ppa.gc.ca, robert@cosbc.ca,
office@wheelhouseshipping.com,
lynne.smith@cvrd.bc.ca,
mayor@ladysmith.ca,
elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca,
sheila.malcolmson@parl.gc.ca,
Alistair.MacGregor@parl.gc.ca,
info@acthetis.com,
bonpender@shaw.ca,
cbsws820@gmail.com,
p-bholmes@shaw.ca,
pluckham@islandstrust.bc.ca,
editor@ladysmithchronicle.com,
dobee@timescolonist.com,
bmackenzie@timescolonist.com,
localnews@timescolonist.com,
editor@take5.ca,
info@take5.bc.ca,
don.bodger@chemainusvalleycourier.ca,
tips@cheknews.ca,
Philip.Wolf@vifreedaily.com,
gsjuberg@driftwoodgimedia.com,
editor@cowichanvalleycitizen.com,
islandnews@ctv.ca,
editor@nanaimobulletin.com,
rrivera@seattletimes.com,
wcox@globeandmail.com,
chamber@chemainus.bc.ca,
tyspeer@tourismvancouver.com,
spearce@tourismvancouver.com

cwp