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Railway protests backing up cargo ships off the Southern Gulf Islands
VICTORIA -- The ongoing railway protests happening across the country are having a significant impact on Vancouver Island.
The Pacific Pilotage says most of the allotted anchorages in the province are full, or close to it. Without trains running, ships are unable to load or unload cargo, meaning they are stuck waiting in the waters off the Southern Gulf Islands.
"We need cargo to start moving again and the supply to open up and trains to be running on time and frequently, and the cargo to be offloaded and loaded," says Pacific Pilotage CEO Kevin Obermeyer.
People who live on the island's coast say they have been seeing an increase in cargo ships, even before the protests, and want them gone.
"It is not an appropriate place to have an anchorage, to have an overflow parking lot for the Port of Vancouver," says Bruce McConchie, a member of the Plumper Sound Protection Association.
He says the port is unable to communicate with ships about their berthing date, so they show up weeks early and sit idling. A harbour full of cargo ships is not only a visual disturbance, but also hard on the environment.
"Picture the shoreline view being obscured by four or five very large freighters," says McConchie. "They are belching out generator noise and air pollution 24/7, and have lights so bright you can read a book in your room at night."
It isn't only noise and air pollution that people are worried about, but also the damage the ship's anchors are having on the ocean floor.
McConchie says large ships moving around on anchors means the chains are scouring the areas they are parked, and people don’t yet know the damage the anchors are causing.
The Plumper Sound Protection Association is calling on the Federal Government to take a stand against the number of cargo ships using Vancouver Island's coast as parking lot.
They say the biggest concern is the possibility of a catastrophic oil spill, with no available resources to clean it up.