First, the District of North Saanich deserves a strong round of applause for removing the vessels from the waters off Lillian Hoffar Park. But that’s only a minute part of a much larger problem in Tsehum Harbour (and elsewhere up and down our coast).
In 2004 there were no mooring buoys in the harbour that Lillian Hoffar Park overlooks. In 2021 there are over 100, and this in what is a major part of the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary. The harbour’s eel grass has been compromised, sunken boats pollute the waters, beached boats grind microplastics into the sea, and, of course, there are large amounts of sewage being discharged from the moored vessels.
Also, there are no longer safe places for transient boats to anchor, access routes to the marinas have narrowed considerably – compromising safe passage – and the junior sailing program used by students from Parkland Secondary School and the wider community can no longer benefit form the extensive sheltered waters of the harbour.
How did this come about? The federal government in the mid-2000s got out of regulating the placement of buoys in coastal waters to save money, despite their responsibility for marine environmental protection, and we now have open season on the placement of concrete blocks and old vehicle engines as the anchors for the buoys.
What is needed is for the municipalities of North Saanich and Sidney, and the Capital Regional District, to work with the provincial and federal governments to find a solution to this environmental and esthetic disaster. Without meaningful action we will continue to see the proliferation of buoy placements along our coast – just look what’s starting to happen in Coles Bay on the west side of the Peninsula where a dozen of these mooring buoys have been placed in the last two or three years. It’s time for action.