A new organization has been formed to ensure our communities are treated fairly when it comes to freighter anchorages.

Mary Deprez told Ladysmith councillors the South Coast Ship Watch Alliance includes members from local First Nations, Gabriola, Thetis, Pender, Protection, and Salt Spring Islands, along with Saltair, Cowichan Bay, Plumper Sound and Istands Trust.

She said they plan to participate in Transport Canada’s National Anchorage Review.

“70 per cent of the freighters anchoring here come for the free parking. If they stay at their home port, or come into the ports at Vancouver or Nanaimo they are subject to paying anchorage fees, invasive species inspections, 24-7 surveillance from harbour masters, restricted length of stay – 7 days in Vancouver, 10 days in Nanaimo but when they park around the south Gulf Islands none of these regulations are in effect.”

There are 55 anchorages in the Port of Vancouver and Nanaimo, 33 anchorages around the Gulf Islands and five in the Ladysmith harbour and Stuart Channel.

Deprez said the problems at the Port of Vancouver are related to a lack of infrastructure investment and we are paying the price for that with anchorages that cause environmental damage and have no economic benefit for us.