Tribes Fight Mega-Marina at Border

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Two Native American bands and an environmental group sued the Canadian government for approving a mega-marina project on the northwest shore of Victoria Harbour, minutes away from the U.S. border. The environmentalists say the project will turn public waters over to private users, and the Songhees First Nation and the Esquimalt Nation say they were not consulted about the project, which will have “adverse impacts on fisheries.”

     “In particular, the dredging, pile driving, installation of the marina, and operation of the Marina Project will adversely impact fish habitat and fish migration in and around the proposed location,” according to the federal complaint.
     In a separate federal complaint, the Dogwood Initiative and Victoria resident Tim Houlihan claim the government’s environmental assessments fell short and erroneously found that the project “‘is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.'”
     The Victoria International Marina will “occupy a significant portion of Victoria’s harbour – 2.6 hectares or 6.5 acres,” the complaint states. “It would accommodate over 50 mega yachts, up to 135 feet long and up to three stories high.”
     The environmentalists say consultation for the new marina was “grossly inadequate” and the government approved the project despite “widespread public concerns.”
     The marina would “displace” the water passageway for human-paddled boats on public property and turn it over for “private use.”
     “The marina will eliminate the only safe passageway through the middle harbour for non-powered vessels, eliminating the ability to paddle from the inner harbour to the outer harbour and the open ocean. … This would leave an extraordinarily narrow channel for nonpowered vessels, whose safety is likely to be further compromised by choppy seas caused by the marina’s wave attenuator and traffic congestion,” the complaint states.
     The Native American band are represented by Gregory J. McDade with Ratcliffe & Co. The Dogwood Initiative and Houlihan are represented by Irene C. Faulkner.

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