This freighter anchored off Chemainus and others throughout the Cowichan Valley region have attracted considerable attention for the long periods of time they remain parked before moving in to the Port of Vancouver. (Photo by Don Bodger)

This freighter anchored off Chemainus and others throughout the Cowichan Valley region have attracted considerable attention for the long periods of time they remain parked before moving in to the Port of Vancouver. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Cowichan MP hosting virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MP’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor is hosting a virtual public town hall, Protect Our Coast: End Freighter Anchorages, on Thursday, Dec. 3 from 6-7:30 p.m.

The virtual town hall will be held through Zoom, and citizens can find instructions on how to participate through MacGregor’s website. It will also be streamed live on MacGregor’s Facebook page.

Related story: MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages

The event will highlight the importance of MacGregor’s Private Member’s Bill C-250 designed to prohibit the anchoring of freighters using coastal waters along the Salish Sea. There has been considerable support since MacGregor introduced the bill among local stakeholders such as First Nations, local government and community activist groups, but also some challenges from individuals and companies defending the economic significance of the freighters’ presence.

Related story: Group taking action on increased freighter anchorages around Thetis Island

Cowichan Tribes recently joined the fight to prohibit freighters from anchoring in coastal waters. Chief William Seymour said the southern Gulf Islands are the heart of Cowichan Tribes’ marine territory where members harvest food and resources daily to sustain themselves.

“Tanker traffic and anchorages in these inside waters and narrow passages between islands pose an unacceptable risk to the ecological integrity that sustains our food resources, which are critical to the long-term livelihoods and well-being of our members,” he indicated.

Related story: Cowichan Tribes against anchorage of freighter vessels in local waters

“Canada introduced the Interim Protocol for the Use of BC Anchorages in early 2018. The federal Crown implemented this Interim Protocol in our marine territory without securing Cowichan Tribes’ free, prior and informed consent and consultation on the protocol’s impacts to our aboriginal and indigenous rights has been shallow, intermittent and rushed.”

“There have been many years of frustration in trying to address this issue with Transport Canada and Transport Minister Marc Garneau,” noted MacGregor. “Despite these efforts, the number of freighters, and the length of their stay at anchor off the southern coast of Vancouver Island, have both increased. In the absence of leadership from the federal government, I have decided that it is time to put forward a bill to try and resolve this issue through legislative means.”

The expert panel participating in the town hall will include representatives from the South Coast Ship Watch Alliance, Penelakut Tribe, local government and SeaChange Marine Conservation Society.

MacGregor’s Bill C-250 seeks to prohibit freighters from anchoring based on coordinates recognized by the federal government as worth protecting as a part of its process in establishing a National Marine Conservation Area.

“If the federal government values these waters enough to establish a National Marine Conservation Area, then they also deserve protection from being used as an overflow industrial parking lot,” MacGregor added. “I’m excited to meet with my constituents to hear what they have to say on this issue and ensure their voices are heard in Ottawa.”

Constituents are encouraged to share feedback and questions for the town hall panelists.

Questions can also be emailed in advance to Alistair.macgregor.c1d@parl.gc.ca. All emailed questions must be sent by 1 p.m. Dec. 2.

EVENT DETAILS

Online: Protect Our Coast: End Freighter Anchorages

Date: Dec. 3, 2020

Time: 6-7:30 p.m.

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84709790135

RSVP: https://alistairmacgregor.ndp.ca/events

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alistair4ndp/

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Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour says freighters should not be anchoring off Cowichan shores. (File photo)

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour says freighters should not be anchoring off Cowichan shores. (File photo)

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor is hosting an expert panel for a virtual town hall on the freighter situation Dec. 3. (File photo)

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor is hosting an expert panel for a virtual town hall on the freighter situation Dec. 3. (File photo)

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