Blockades leave extra freighters waiting to load near Vancouver Island

Blockades leave extra freighters waiting to load near Vancouver Island
WatchFreighters are anchoring near Vancouver Island as blockades slow them from loading at ports on the Lower mainland but it's negatively impacting people who see and hear the ships

The blockades of west coast rail lines and the Port of Vancouver means freighters are stacking up, as they wait to load.

Many are now anchored around Nanaimo and the southern Gulf Islands.

One of the impacted Gabriola Island residents says the freighters anchored nearby are a constant issue outside her waterfront home.

Despite Transport Canada’s interim rules, she says the ships often run generators and lights impacting her quality of life.

“This 24-hour constant drone is driving me crazy I couldn’t be outside. I would hear it at night. I would have to close the windows,” said Suzanne Walters.

In the past two years Walters has lived here she’s filed dozens of complaints to Transport Canada. She says she was recently told there are more freighters than normal because of the blockades impacting the Port of Vancouver.

“I know it’s a political situation that needs time to be solved but what really bothers me is that if they’re going to be parking here is that they totally disregard the interim protocols of lighting and noise pollution,” said Walters.

The Ports of Vancouver and Nanaimo have deep-sea anchorages they control but there are more than 30 others between South Pender Island to Gabriola, and most are now being used with the backlog only expected to get worse with a new rail blockade in Vancouver Sunday.

“Maybe this will bring some more attention to it given how crazy it is now but it’s not a new issue,” said Chris Straw of the Southcoast Shipwatch Alliance.

The Alliance monitors freighters waiting to load and Straw says Transport Canada should have more rules and control over the situation.

“Both the coal operations on the Vancouver side and also the grain terminals have really just been taking advantage of the situation and more and more ships are arriving way ahead of time from when they need to pick up and are parking here for free,” said Straw.

Straw says there are environmental impacts while the freighter’s anchors drag on the seas floor and generators burn 10 tons of greenhouse gases per day.

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP says the feds need a new policy for anchored ships near Vancouver Island.

“You’re just inviting ships to go there and hang out. You need to have a disincentive on them doing that so charge fees for the anchorages,” said Paul Manly, in an interview from Ottawa.

For Walters, any change to improve her quality of life can’t come soon enough.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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