WATCH: Residents between Ladysmith and Chemainus are fuming over the increase in freighter traffic using their waterfront as a parking lot. Neighbours say it began last winter and has been constant as the massive vessels wait up to two weeks to load and unload at the Port of Vancouver and they worry about the impact of the ships on marine life.
Margaret Petro is worried about the wildlife that once filled the Saltair water in front of her home.
“The whales are not coming,” said Petro. “They don’t like the lights or the noise. The herons they’re just disappearing.”
She’s not alone in her mounting concerns and frustrations over the hulking freighters that now crowd the coast.
“Now you walk on the beach all you see are these gigantic freighters,” said bed and breakfast owner Kay Morisset. “You know all the sea otters we had, the eagles, they just leave.”
Neighbours say the foreign freighters are taking over their dream views between Ladysmith and Chemainus and keeping them up at night.
“Living so close to them we hear them all night long,” said Saltair resident Leanne Watson. “All night long. We hear them when they drop anchor. If the wind goes the right way we get the exhaust into our bedrooms.”
“It’s like having a skyscraper this is what I keep saying,” said Saltair resident Megan Norfolk. “A skyscraper come and park in front of your house like laying sideways with all of its lights on and its generator running.”
Kay Morisset runs a Bed and breakfast in Saltair and says she’s even having guests cancel because of the freighters loud noise and lights.
“When we disclose that there’s going to be a little more noise because of the presence of these big freighters and we don’t know exactly when it’s going to leave well they said they prefer to cancel,” said Morisset.
The problem of parking freighters as they awaited loading at the Port of Vancouver first surfaced along East Vancouver Island ten years ago, but Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson says now its up and down the coast and impacting many.
“Is that not the kind of public infrastructure investment we should be putting public money instead of buying a $4.5 Billion leaky old pipeline?” said Malcolmson.
“That would be better for the coast, better for the economy,” said Malcolmson.
“And if they are going to turn this into a parking lot then where is our deep sea buoy anchors?” said Saltair resident Mary Desprez. “Where is our 24-hour surveillance, where is our safety, where is our invasive species inspection,” she said.
Transport Canada says it is taking residents concerns seriously and will make them part of the impact analysis for a National Anchorages Framework.
Though that is still some time away. So for now anchoring for weeks on end is within freighters rights — and clearly more and more are choosing to do so.