Regional district pens opposition to plan to anchor freighters off Gabriola Island

NANAIMO – Group of residents ask regional district for support in their opposition to anchorage.

The Regional District of Nanaimo will pen a letter voicing opposition to freighters and bulk carriers setting anchor off Gabriola Island.

The letter will be addressed to Transport Canada, Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, Ministry of Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and B.C. Ministry of Environment, and is in support of Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages, who made a presentation at the regional district committee of the whole meeting Tuesday.

Franz Gigl, spokesman for the grassroots organization, said the Pacific Pilotage Authority is considering designating five anchorages along the island’s northeastern coast. His group has numerous concerns, including affects on prawn fishing, destruction of the seabed from the weight of the anchors, possible oil spills and tourism on the island.

“It would be definitely negative for our environment, but this is not the only concern we have,” said Gigl. “All our businesses are based on tourism and I don’t think tourists would come to Gabriola Island to look at five cape-size freighters.”

Brian Young, pilotage authority marine operations director, said the authority is in the midst of an environmental assessment and is anticipating a report by April 15. If all goes according to plan, a package will be sent out to stakeholders by April 30.

“We are hoping that we could hold public meetings during the second week of August,” said Young.

Gigl said the Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages is a rechristened version of the Gabriola Anchor Rage group, which voiced similar concerns last August.

Howard Houle, regional district Gabriola Island area director, proposed the motion and echoed concerns about the environmental impact.

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