Georgia Strait Alliance is the only citizens' group focused on protecting the marine environment in and around the whole Strait of Georgia – Canada's most at-risk natural environment, and the place where 70% of British Columbians live, work and play. We are committed to a future for our region that includes clean water and air, healthy wild salmon runs, rich marine life and natural areas, and sustainable communities.

May 23, 2012

Down at the Dock: Maple Bay Marina Wooden Boat Festival

Clean Marine BC eco-certification flag
flying at Maple Bay Marina
Photo: Michelle Young
Maple Bay Marina’s Wooden Boat Festival took place last weekend at one of GSA’s seven Clean Marine BC eco-rated marinas. The first thing I saw as I arrived was thousands of juvenile salmon in the bay; what a fitting way to start the festival. It seemed a testament to the fact that we can coexist in harmony with nature if we respect the marine environment and allow ecosystems to thrive as we strive to minimize our impact. That is exactly what Clean Marine BC is all about!

I arrived early so I had a wander around the docks. Few things make me happier than the ocean and boats, so it was a great pleasure to see the many well cared for wooden boats entered into the festival. Meeting Carol and Dave Messier of Maple Bay Marina was also special, as they are fantastic hosts and make every effort to employ environmental best practices at their marina, and to share green boating information with their guests.

Wooden Boats at Maple Bay Marina
Photo: Michelle Young
Many people who stopped by our booth were interested in learning about the sewage vessel regulations that came into effect earlier in May. Some expressed frustration that the government is targeting recreational boaters while the capital of our province, Victoria, continues to pump raw sewage into the ocean. We couldn’t agree more about Victoria, which will have treatment within about six years, however each individual can make a difference and it is critical as we utilize our waters that we take the greatest care to minimize any harm we might cause. Others were concerned that they would like to comply with the regulations, however there are not enough pump out facilities available, making it an extreme inconvenience, or even worse, requiring them to burn extra fuel to make it to one of the few pump outs.

The loophole of being allowed to pump within 3 miles of shore, or within 1 mile in certain circumstances, is a necessary step towards full protection of our waters, as it will help protect near-shore habitat and the coves and bays that boaters love to anchor in. However it is critical that the necessary infrastructure be put in place to allow boaters to pump out without having to go too far out of our way while doing our part for the environment we love so much.

Visit our website to learn more about the new sewage vessel regulations. You can also find out more about our Clean Marine BC marina eco-rating and green boating program. Happy and green boating!

May 22, 2012

June 4th: Silence is not an option

And the bad news just keeps coming.

First came the outright attacks on environmental groups, trying to marginalize their efforts to give voice to citizens’ concerns over oil and gas development projects

Then came the omnibus budget, which is pushing through massive de-regulations of environmental protection laws, without proper consultation or discussion, or using sound scientific reasoning for proposing the changes.  That budget also included money specifically targeting environmental charities and their ability to engage in advocacy.

Then the announcements: closure of the federal oil response centre in Vancouver, closure of the Coast Guards Station in Kitsilano, and closure of the marine pollution research unit at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, including letting go the government’s leading killer whale toxicologist.

If there was any doubt that the federal government was abandoning its role as steward of the environment, those doubts are gone.  What is clear now is that to this government, our rivers, oceans, lands and the wildlife that call them home are simply impediments to resource development, and they must be removed.

The government uses words like ‘modernization’ and ‘efficiency’, however, the truth is each of these actions is making it easier for oil, gas and mining development to happen quickly, leaving decisions in the hands of politicians, not the scientists and experts who really have the knowledge to make reasoned decisions.  And some of the impacts of these rushed and reckless decisions will be left to future generations to clean up.

In recent memory, there has never been such an open attack by our federal government on our environment and the civil society that is its voice.  And that is why there has never been a more important time for us to speak up.  So on June 4th Georgia Strait Alliance is joining organizations, businesses, unions, bloggers and individuals from across the country to “Black Out, Speak Out”.

On that day, when you visit our website, you won’t have access to the hundreds of pages of information to help you understand the threats to the Strait, and the solutions we are working on to protect our waters.  On that day, our online voice will be silenced, but your voice will not. 

Our land, water and air are all threatened by the latest federal budget.

All our voices are at risk.

Silence is not an option.

For more information on how you can take part and take action, please visit