Skip to main content

e-2837 (Transportation)

Initiated by Megan Norfolk from Ladysmith, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • In February 2018, Transport Canada introduced an Interim Protocol, as part of the National Anchorages Review. This protocol has resulted in a 400% increase in coal and grain freighters parking in the Southern Gulf Islands;
  • The protocol was supposed to last six months. More than two years later, the Interim Protocol is still in effect;
  • No parking fees are collected, minimal safety oversight is provided and no local jobs are created;
  • The parked freighters cause environmental damage to the sensitive Salish Sea ecosystem;
  • These environmental damages include: ocean floor damage from dragging anchors, disrupting the habitats of endangered orcas and other wildlife, air pollution from diesel generators, as well as noise, light and dust pollution;
  • In March 2020, a collision between two freighters in Plumper Sound highlighted the threat posed by the freighter parking and the potential for environmentally devastating fuel spill in the Southern Gulf Island region; and
  • Local First Nations governments and community members, area residents and community groups are all calling for the removal of the commercial anchorages from the Southern Gulf Islands.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Eliminate the 33 commercial anchorages throughout the Southern Gulf Islands;
2. Improve the grain supply chain and terminal infrastructure, and evaluate the transport of U.S. thermal coal through the Port of Vancouver; and
3. Implement efficient international shipping standards such as the ‘Just-in-Time-Arrival’ computer system to better facilitate trade and the Canadian economy.

Response by the Minister of Transport

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Omar Alghabra

The Government’s goal for managing anchorages in Canada is one where commercial shipping is conducted safely for the benefit of all Canadians, while seeking to minimize the impact to the marine environment and surrounding communities.

The Port of Vancouver is the largest port in Canada and third largest in North America. From 2011 to 2019, the Port has seen 33% increase in the utilization of anchorages due to the growth of Canada’s Asia-Pacific gateway and record levels of Canadian natural resources export volumes and large commercial deep-sea vessels. In 2018, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority handled 43% of all tonnage and 51% of all containers passing through Canada Port Authorities.

Prohibiting anchorages in the Southern Gulf Islands, which forms part of the Asia Pacific Gateway, would have a negative impact on Canada’s import and export capacity. As a trading nation, the marine transportation system is key to Canada’s continued economic and social well-being, and anchorages are an integral part of safe navigation. Given the importance of this gateway, there are no current plans to eliminate anchorages in the near-term.

Transport Canada has conducted analyses on anchorage congestion and usage related to key commodities such as grain and coal, and the results clearly indicate that multiple factors are contributing to the dynamic that we observe in southern British Columbia. These factors include supply chain disruptions, weather, labour and operations, as well as the growing demands in Asia that has led to an increase in exports of commodities from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Transport Canada is aware that the increased ship activity and utilization of anchorages in the Southern Gulf Islands has been met with concern by local communities. Noise and light from vessels at anchor have been identified by them as significant concerns, as have impacts on the fish harvesting practices and cultural activities of local First Nations.

The Government's vision for anchorage management in the Southern Gulf Islands is to reduce anchorage use and transits by commercial vessels as well as ensure these comply with a formal code of conduct. Such improvements should also be part of broader active traffic management measures —including the promotion of more collaborative uses of technology, data sharing and advanced analytics by port operators and users— to optimize gateway fluidity with a view to promoting supply-chain efficiency and mitigating the socio-environmental impacts of anchorages on Indigenous and local communities. Transport Canada officials are actively working with key stakeholders such as the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to achieve this vision.

For example, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and Transport Canada, amongst other Pacific Gateway partners, are collaborating on the West Coast Supply Chain Visibility Program. This multi-phase, multi-year program is developing and implementing a series of operational planning and optimization tools tailored to participating industry members. With the support of the National Trade Corridors Fund, partners will be developing a program that will report on all commodities, additional modes of transport, and import and cargo, working toward a goal of having visibility into the movement of 95% of all cargo through the West Coast of Canada by the end of 2022.

Tools such as these will support increased capacity and operating efficiencies across the supply chain by giving a large group of stakeholders access to a single and comprehensive record system for supply chain activity, as well as a consolidated end-to-end view of goods movement across the gateway. This greater visibility into the supply chain will optimize the performance of existing infrastructure and will facilitate the port’s ability to manage current challenges such as anchorages as well as meet the demands of future growth.

Open for signature
September 15, 2020, at 3:22 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
November 14, 2020, at 3:22 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Paul Manly (Nanaimo—Ladysmith)
November 30, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00314)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Paul Manly
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia