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e-2985 (Transportation)

E-petition
Initiated by Genevieve Singleton from Duncan, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

Whereas:
  • Transport Canada’s Interim Protocol on the use of Southern BC Anchorages created a “voluntary protocol” aimed at reducing lights and noise and creating an equitable rotation of anchorages, which has been largely ignored and not enforced, and residents have seen both the frequency and duration of freighters at anchor increase over the past ten years;
  • Ancient clam beds, prawns, oysters, and endangered species, such as the southern resident killer whale, are at risk of environmental impact from these vessels, which have been shown to swing at anchor, increasing the risks of them coming aground and causing environmental and ecological disaster;
  • The federal government sees value in protecting the sensitive marine habitat in these waters through the establishment of a National Marine Conservation Area and that they should therefore not be used as an overflow industrial parking lot for the Port of Vancouver; and
  • First Nations in the region were not consulted, nor did they give their free, prior, and informed consent to the establishment of these anchorages in their unceded and traditional territories;
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to support NDP member of Parliament Alistair MacGregor's Bill C-250, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (anchorage prohibition), to end the use of Southern BC Anchorages in the Strait of Georgia to protect our Vancouver Island coast and delicate ecosystems.

Response by the Minister of Transport

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Omar Alghabra

The Government’s goal for managing anchorages in Canada is one where commercial shipping is conducted safely for the benefit of all Canadians, while seeking to minimize the impact to the marine environment and surrounding communities.

Transport Canada is aware that increased ship activity and utilization of anchorages in the Southern Gulf Islands has been met with concern by Indigenous and local communities.  Noise and light from vessels at anchor have been identified as significant concerns, as have impacts on the environment, endangered species, and fish harvesting practices and cultural activities of local First Nations.

In Canada, navigation is a common law right, and as such, a ship is generally free to anchor temporarily, and for a reasonable period of time, in any location deemed appropriate.  The current Southern Gulf Islands anchorage sites on the south coast of British Columbia were historically identified by vessel masters in consideration of a number of factors, including the quality of anchor-holding ground, shelter from high winds, proximity to shipping routes, and port logistics.  Safety and security considerations were at the forefront for identifying these anchorage sites, which were then mapped onto charts over time, rather than through a regulatory process of decision making.

Since 2017, Transport Canada has been in communication with local and Indigenous communities regarding the Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages, including seeking input and feedback.   Indigenous and local coastal community input has been important in the development of management approaches for anchorages. The input received over this period has surfaced a number of socio-environmental considerations of importance to communities that are informing the development of a framework for the management of anchorages. Engagement with Indigenous and local communities, as well as marine industry stakeholders, is a key component of the Anchorages Initiative under the Oceans Protection Plan, and will continue in the near future.

Prohibiting anchorages in the Southern Gulf Islands, which forms part of the Asia Pacific Gateway, would have a negative impact on Canada’s import and export capacity.  Presently, the existing Southern Gulf Islands anchorages are used primarily by vessels awaiting berth at the Port of Vancouver to load or unload bulk cargo, the majority of which is grain, coal, and potash.  The elimination of these anchorage sites would mean that these vessels would be forced to seek suitable anchorages elsewhere (e.g., other coastal communities) outside the prohibited waters.  This would cause a significant disruption to industry, supply chains, and the everyday lives of Canadians.

The Government’s vision for anchorages management in the Southern Gulf Islands is focused on reducing anchorage use and transits by commercial vessels, and that these vessels comply with code of conduct while at anchor – whether through incentives or disincentives.  Consistent with this vision, these improvements should also be part of broader active traffic management measures – including the promotion of more collaborative uses of technology, data sharing, and advanced analytics by port operators and users – to optimize gateway fluidity with a view to promoting supply-chain efficiency and mitigating the socio-environmental impacts of anchorages on Indigenous and local communities. Transport Canada is actively working with key stakeholders such as the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to achieve this vision.

 

Open for signature
November 30, 2020, at 10:56 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 30, 2021, at 10:56 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan—Malahat—Langford)
April 13, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00786)
Government response tabled
May 27, 2021
Photo - Alistair MacGregor
Cowichan—Malahat—Langford
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia
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