Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, will host a town hall on Aug. 18 to update his constituents on Parks Canada’s development of a National Marine Conservation Area for the southern Strait of Georgia and the contentious freighter anchorages issue.
The town hall, called Let’s Safeguard the Salish Sea, will include an expert panel with representatives from Parks Canada, local First Nations and community stakeholders to provide updates from their unique perspectives.
MacGregor said that about two years ago, he invited constituents to join him for a virtual town hall to discuss the issue of freighter anchorages in the Salish Sea.
“Regretfully, coastal residents, local First Nations, and conservation groups continue to plead with Transport Canada and the Vancouver Port Authority to find solutions to this problem,” said MacGregor.
“A National Marine Conservation Area for the Salish Sea would be monumental in the fight against these anchorages, and I am excited to help bring forward new information, directly from Parks Canada, on this project.”
There are 33 commercial vessel anchorages located throughout the southern Gulf Islands, including six in operation in Cowichan Bay and six near Ladysmith and Saltair harbours.
Repeated calls have been made by local governments, community groups and First Nations about protecting clam beds, prawns, oysters and endangered species, such as the southern resident killer whales, from the environmental impact of the anchored shipping vessels.
As well as concerns about the impacts to the marine environment of parking these large ships in the area, there are also concerns about the noise and light pollution they create.
It’s become a long-standing issue particularly for residents of Saltair, Chemainus, Thetis and Penelakut Islands, other Gulf Islands, Cowichan Bay, Ladysmith and Nanaimo.
In 2020, MacGregor introduced Private Member’s Bill C-250 which aimed to prohibit large freighters from anchoring in the waters to be designated as a future National Marine Conservation Area, and which have been recognized by the federal government as worth protecting as a part of this process.
He said he looks forward to re-introducing the bill later this year.
“It’s a shame that I find myself saying this again,” said MacGregor.
“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 for the Port of Vancouver. I’m excited to again meet with my constituents to hear what they have to say on this issue and ensure their voices are heard in Ottawa.”
MacGregor is encouraging all interested constituents to attend in person or watch the live stream.
Constituent’s can email questions for panelists in advance to Alistair.firstname.lastname@example.org.
All emailed questions must to be sent no later than 1 p.m. on Aug. 17.