The property at 5084 Island Hwy. South is just north of the community of Union Bay and used to be a log sort, but in late 2020 the owner, Deep Water Recovery began bringing in old ships and barges to be dismantled.
A retired ferry has been moored just offshore since late last year. BC Ferries has said it is currently just storing the vessel there.
Area residents say they object to the hauling out of ships and barges and the shipbreaking they say has been happening on the property.
“It’s a very, very hazardous operation that needs to be done in a proper port with proper containment, processes, regulations in place and we’re all for that but not in a residential neighbourhood on Baynes Sound,” said Ray Rewcastle of the group Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound.
In a decision Wednesday, the Comox Valley Regional District appears to agree, ruling that “shipbreaking was not a permitted use in the Industrial Marine Zone.”
However, residents say that is not the end of the fight.
“No, I don’t believe so,” said Rewcastle. “This operator has been fairly aggressive and to date, his quotes have been that he’s in full compliance to the zoning bylaw.”
Complicating matters is the fact that the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development does permit the hauling out of ships across the foreshore onto land.
“It defies logic that those vessels are the same things as logs. The ships and barges all contain toxins, logs don’t contain toxins, so the FLNRO has been trying to paint the picture that this was a minor change and we challenged them on that and they won’t reply to us to be quite frank,” said local resident Rob Kerr.
Neither the ministry nor the owner of Deep Water Recovery Mark Jurisich responded to our request for comment Thursday.
CHEK News spoke with Jurisich in December.
“We have a very, very stringent environmental plan. All the hydrocarbons need to be removed before the vessels come in here. The barges obviously don’t have anything on them,” he said.
“The overarching issue is the lack of Canadian regulations pertaining to shipbreaking,” said Marilynne Manning, who lives near the Deep Water Recovery property. “Because we don’t have any regulations operations like this can happen.”
The CVRD is now applying for a court injunction to prevent shipbreaking from happening at the property.