The Comox Valley Regional District board says a shipbreaking operation in Union Bay is a non-permitted use in an industrial zone.
Directors Edwin Grieve (Area C), Arzeena Hamir (Area B) and Daniel Arbour (Area A) unanimously agreed on the matter at the Feb. 15 board meeting. Rural directors were the only board members to vote because the matter pertains to land use, and they are the participating members in that service.
If necessary, the district will proceed to court to pursue an interim injunction against the operation that has created a great deal of unrest in the community south of Courtenay.
Union Bay Industries owns the property in question, and lease it back to Deep Water Recovery. The CVRD started to receive bylaw complaints about shipbreaking in March 2020. The Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound and the K’ómoks First Nation say that DWR’s operation is threatening Baynes Sound.
Arbour noted that another barge was brought onshore last weekend.
“So despite all of our attempts to try to work with the applicant, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of response, so I do believe that pursuing this course is the correct one at this time,” he said.
Though pleased with Tuesday’s decision, the CCBS worries that DWR will continue the hazardous operation until a court injunction is granted.
The group questions how the B.C. Forests Ministry (MoFLNRO) can continue to allow DWR to moor or move ships from the water to the land over the beach foreshore when they will not be able to shipbreak on land.
“FLNR should issue a cease and desist order, as they have done in the past with DWR, immediately, and rescind the lease,” group member Ray Rewcastle said. “And will BC Ferries kindly remove their eyesore from the beautiful and ecologically sensitive Baynes Sound…We believe the removal of derelict vessels and old ships must be done and removed from our shorelines. But this must be performed in government approved facilities in deep water heavy industrial marine ports with proper containment, and lifting processes to ensure it is done safely while protecting the environment.”
Mark Jurisich of DWR was not available for comment.