A timeline of major ship-breaking events in Union Bay

A timeline of major ship-breaking events in Union Bay

Since October 2023, The Discourse has been following the ship breaking occurring in Union Bay by a company called Deep Water Recovery.

The site along Highway 19A was previously a log sort, but Deep Water Recovery has been dismantling derelict barges and vessels at the location since 2020.

The site lies amongst a cross-jurisdictional mix of regulations and has received opposition from K’ómoks First Nation, a number of community members and the Comox Valley Regional District, who took the company to court over failing to follow zoning regulations.

Generally, the federal government manages what happens offshore, including the transport of vessels to and from the site. It also has responsibilities related to the fish habitat in the tidal waters. The province manages the company’s foreshore lease, which covers activities in the water and below the high tide mark. But the land higher up is privately owned, and governed by the land use rules of the Comox Valley Regional District. The Indigenous land and water rights of the K’ómoks First Nation overlay all of this.

READ MORE: BC Supreme Court rules on contentious drone video surveilling Vancouver Island company

These jurisdictions have all been involved with policing Deep Water Recovery’s activities and responding to community members’ concerns since the company transformed the site from a log sort to a ship recycling facility about four years ago.

Canada does not have any federal rules specific to ship breaking, and the site in Union Bay is revealing the regulatory cracks in both the domestic and international shipping industry.

So how did the company get to where it is now? This timeline serves to help outline the intricacies of this operation. It will be updated alongside the coverage of more stories.


  • June 29, 2016: Deep Water Recovery is incorporated, first listed under the name 1081174 B.C. LTD.


  • 1081174 B.C. LTD. changes its name to Deep Water Recovery LTD.


  • Deep Water Recovery (DWR) sets up in Union Bay and begins dismantling barges on the site.
  • Dec. 20, 2020: Some of the first DWR footage from RicksKopter’s is posted on YouTube.


  • July 2021: Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound (CCOBS) is incorporated as a society.
  • Near the end of 2021: The Queen of Burnaby shows up at Deep Water Recovery. Headquarters in Union Bay. The Times Colonist covers the community’s concern around the ferry showing up at the site.
  • December 16, 2021: K’ómoks First Nation releases a statement expressing opposition to the operation.


  • March 12, 2022: Union Bay resident Mary Reynolds publishes her first drone video of the DWR site, from December 5, 2021 when the Queen of Burnaby was moored at the site.
  • March 17, 2022: The Tyee publishes a report on ship breaking and DWR by Michelle Gamage titled “Where should ships go when they die,
  • April 14, 2022: Comox Valley Regional District begins a civil suit against DWR on grounds that the site is not zoned properly for ship breaking.
  • April 29, 2022: The company receives its first out of compliance warning letter from the province. The province deemed them out of compliance for waste disposal under the Environmental Management Act.
  • June 11, 2022: Mark Jurisich, one of DWR’s directors, confronts Union Bay resident Mary Reynolds and steals her drone used to film above the ship breaking site. The drone is later deposited on her front porch with a broken memory card.
  • June 20, 2022: Reynolds filed a Notice of Civil Claim against Jurisich claiming “general, special, aggravated and punitive damages.”
  • August 4, 2022: The Tyee publishes a follow-up article by Michelle Gamage regarding the lawsuit filed by the CVRD against DWR.
  • August 30, 2022: CBC News publishes its first story on DWR’s operations.
  • September 6, 2022: DWR receives its second out of compliance warning letter from the province under waste disposal.
  • Dec. 8, 2022: DWR receives its third out of compliance warning letter from the province under waste disposal.


  • Jan. 23, 2023: DWR receives an information order (111550) under Section 77 of the Environmental Management Act. 
  • April 28, 2023: The company is found to be out of compliance for a fourth time during inspections alongside a letter stating that DWR is being referred for an administration penalty.
  • June 30, 2023. The company receives its fifth out of compliance warning letter, stating that they may be subject to an administration penalty.
  • Oct. 22, 2023: Activists hold a rally against DWR in Union Bay. The Discourse publishes its first story covering ship breaking.
  • Oct. 11, 2023: DWR receives a $500 penalty for failure to comply with information order 111550.
  • Nov. 8, 2024: The Discourse publishes its second story on DWR, investigating The Queen of Burnaby previously moored at the site.
  • Nov. 24, 2023: DWR is found to be out of compliance for a sixth time, this time for failing to conduct monthly sampling by the province’s requirements.


  • Feb. 20, 2024: British Columbia ministers write a letter to the federal government urging more action to regulate and respond to concerns regarding the ship breaking site.
  • March 4, 2024: BC Ferries confirms that they have no plans on furthering work or negotiations with DWR, according to an email from BC Ferries to a Union Bay resident. The email was uploaded to Mary Reynold’s All Things Union Bay blog.
  • March 6, 2024: The Discourse publishes its third story on DWR and their operations, this time discussing the letter from the ministers from Feb. 20.
  • March 15, 2024: DWR receives pollution abatement order from the province.
  • April 4, 2024: The Discourse publishes a story on the pollution abatement order, outlining the roles of the provincial and federal government.
  • April 8, 2024: Mary Reynolds scores a partial anti-SLAPP victory after suing Deep Water Recovery for robbing the drone she was using to film their operation. CBC News publishes a story on the case.
  • April 17, 2024: CHEK News also covers the court ruling with additional video footage.

Madeline Dunnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse

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