Ministerial order bans new dock applications in Gulf Islands

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An order by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development that went into effect Tuesday will prohibit new applications for private moorage within the southern Gulf Islands and the southeast shoreline of Vancouver Island for the next two years. 

The order by Forests Minister Katrine Conroy, signed on Monday, went into immediate effect the following day and covers the period from Aug. 24, 2021 to Aug. 23, 2023. 

According to the ministry’s rationale for the closure, private moorages can cause restricted access to foreshore and marine areas; increase turbidity from dock construction and increased boat traffic; increase contamination from dock materials such as treated timber and corrosion; increase shading to fish and fish habitat; and cause direct disturbance to marine resources such as kelp, eelgrass and clam beds.

“The cumulative impact of the proliferation of private moorage docks on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands has not been adequately characterized or measured. This has led to multi-year delays to decisions on private moorage applications,” the ministry states on its website. 

“The prohibition provides time to assess the cumulative impacts of existing and proposed private moorages on the southern Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands foreshore and marine environments, providing a pathway to decisions on private moorage applications currently in inventory and on new applications that may be accepted at the conclusion of the prohibition.”

The prohibition does not apply to applications for new private moorage where road access to an upland property does not exist, nor to applications to replace or assign an existing permission, lease, or licence for private moorage within the existing tenure boundary.

The Islands Trust has been considering a ban on new private docks within the entire Trust area as part of an update to its guiding policy statement. Draft amendments proposed by the Trust Programs Committee provoked considerable opposition from waterfront property owners and marine construction firms earlier this year. 

Find the ministerial order and a map of the prohibition zone here

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