Viewpoint: Out of sight, out of mind
By BARB GALLOWAY
Just because you can’t see the 33 freighters parked around the Gulf Islands from your homes, as described in last week’s “Australia Provides Ship Lessons” article and the Driftwood’s editorial, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be extremely concerned.
If you go to the beach to kayak, boat, fish or crab, or if you have young children, you should be fighting to get rid of these ships. They are polluting our environment and interfering with our orcas. I have a perfect view of the two anchorages in the entrance to Ganges Harbour and Captain’s Passage.
On May 14 at 6 a.m. I watched the MV Theseus come through Swanson Channel and Captain’s Passage looking like it was burning 1,000 litres of oil a second. The streak of thick, white-blue-grey smoke lingered for two kilometres before the vessel parked in the entrance to Ganges Harbour and stayed there until May 27. I phoned the Port of Vancouver to complain and as usual received absolutely no response from them.
On two other occasions I watched as freighters with empty cargo holds had their crews wash the freighters inside and out. Brown, murky water came from their anchor wash for two and a half hours for one ship and three hours and seven minutes for the other and was dumped into our waters.
The last freighter that parked in Captain’s Passage from May 8 to 16 had such a whiny pitch to its generator that it could be heard for four kilometres 24/7. I received no response from the Port of Vancouver regarding that complaint.
They want pleasure boats to turn off engines, depth and fish finders when orcas are near, but these freighters are allowed to do whatever they want with absolutely no consequences.
There are protests against pipelines and for the orcas. Well, think globally and act locally. These freighters are our pipeline issue. Like the people of Sky Valley Road who feel like they are fighting their battle against clear-cut logging alone, those of us fighting these freighters feel alone.
The shipping industry has decreased by 30 per cent during these difficult times. Now is the time to fight and change this policy. There are 10,000 of us on Salt Spring Island. There should be 10,000 letters on the desks of Transport Minister Marc Garneau, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Bernadette Jordan. Wake up, Salt Spring, this is about all of the generations to come.
The Port of Vancouver has pulled the wool over the eyes of Lower Mainland citizens with their feel-good commercials. The dirty secret is that the Gulf Islands have been turned into an industrial dumping ground with not a second thought to our environment, our quiet way of life or our tourism industry.