Chemainus public beach in summer with people recreating in the ocean, a reef in the middle ground, and a freighter in the nearby background, photo submitted by Freighter Free Chemainus.

South Coast Ship Watch Alliance welcomes “Freighter Free Chemainus”

Another group of concerned citizens—Freighter Free Chemainus—is joining South Coast Ship Watch Alliance efforts to end the use of commercial freighter anchorages in the Southern Gulf Island waters. 

Detail of marine map showing locations of 6 anchorages along coast near Ladysmith. Freighter Free Chemainus is specifically concerned about the location of Ladysmith anchorage F on the bottom right of this map.

Chemainus is a small town (population approximately 4000) on the east coast of Vancouver Island, located between Duncan and Nanaimo. There are 6 anchorages for large commercial freighters stretching along the shoreline north to Ladysmith. Chemainus is especially impacted by the Ladysmith F anchorage [LSF] as it is very close to the town.

Freighter Free Chemainus is a group of concerned neighbours who have joined together to coordinate our efforts in opposing the anchoring of freighters adjacent to our community, and to work toward the complete elimination of all 33 designated anchorages in the Southern Gulf Islands and adjacent Vancouver Island.

The use of these anchorages has increased hugely in the past few years, creating significant negative impacts to the residents of Chemainus as well as the local marine environment. There are now freighters anchored at LSF over 80% of the time and many stay for weeks, with the record to-date being 55.5 days. This enormous growth in industrialization of Southern BC waters was done without any environmental or community impact studies, or consultation with First Nations or affected residents.

Freighter Free Chemainus has been following the efforts of the South Coast Ship Watch Alliance (SCSWA) for a few years and we are pleased to join its coalition of community groups. Our interests are aligned with the intentions and purpose of the SCSWA as stated on their website, including the position paper and fact sheet. We are pleased to work with the SCSWA to preserve the Southern Gulf Islands unique and sensitive environment and to protect the health of coastal residents.

Freighters anchored at Ladysmith F (LSF) have a significant impact on the residents of Chemainus for the following reasons:
  • Freighters can be very loud, decibel recordings from the adjacent shore have been as loud as 90 dB(A). According to the World Health Organization, daytime noise levels should not exceed 55dB(A) while nighttime noise levels should not exceed 45dB(A). If noise exceeds these levels people will find it disturbing or annoying, and prolonged exposure can become a significant concern over time leading to health impacts such as cardiovascular issues. 
  • These ships change our views and the entire environment from a natural area to an industrial parking lot harming our social and natural environment. The ships have a negative impact on property values, recreation and tourism.
  • At anchorage F the ocean floor drops off substantially requiring the ships to anchor closer to shore and nearer to homes. It is hard to enjoy the beautiful views of the ocean, islands and mountains with a huge freighter directly in front of our homes.
  • All of the waterfront public parks and beach areas in Chemainus are adjacent to anchorage F; families are swimming and playing on the beach with a huge freighter in the background. These ships take way from the beauty of our beaches and enjoyment of the community waterfront.
  • The tourist industry stemming from the murals and the theatre is a major source of income for Chemainus and large industrial ships reduce the aesthetics and enjoyment of the town for tourists.
  • The ocean in front of the town is a major area for fishing spot prawns; industrial freighters with their air and water pollution are incompatible with clean safe seafood. Problems include the potential pumping of ballast tanks, pumping of bilges, dragging of anchors, dumping of garbage and waste, and air pollution from continual running of generators, and engines. 
  • A freighter dragging anchor or breaking anchor during a storm would devastate the shoreline, including public beaches.
  • Bright lights from the ships shine into residential windows all night long and it is difficult to enjoy the stars with the constant light pollution
  • Many freighters produce black smoke which drifts toward the shore polluting our air and, on occasion, we can smell the diesel fumes.
Mission Statement of Freighter Free Chemainus
  • Grow our membership to increase the number of voices actively calling for the elimination of anchorages in the Southern Gulf Islands
  • Encourage our members to monitor anchored freighters for signs of air pollution including black smoke, and discharge into the water.
  • Actively complain to the Port of Vancouver regarding noise and lights concerns
  • Participate in all community engagement initiatives from the Port of Vancouver
  • Lobby and contact elected representatives from all political parties: federal, provincial, regional and municipal to eliminate all 33 Southern Gulf Island Anchorages
  • Support initiatives from the SCSWA including proposed solutions put forward to Transport Canada