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General News · 24th November 2016
Brian Hayden
I would like to add further comments to Michelle Glickman’s letter and Dan Hilton’s comments about the industrialization of shellfish operations in Gorge Harbour. Michelle Glickman hit the nail on the head when she stated that light shellfish industry can be supported, but not industrial-scale shellfish industry (especially run by off-island corporations), just as Cortes supports light logging but not industrial-scale clearcutting by off-island corporations. The small-scale shellfish operations have been part of Cortes life for generations, but they were locally owned and of small enough scale to be compatible with the residential and recreational uses of Gorge Harbour. This is no longer the case with the expansion of the shellfish operations to industrial scales that have taken over the Gorge and invaded residential and recreational spaces with irritating noises, plastic pollution, harassment of waterfowl, and a marine ecology that has been degraded.

It’s nice to hear platitudes from Island Sea Farms (ISF) representatives like we “wish to support and foster a balanced relationship with all those we share it [the community] with,” but actions speak far louder than words. And the actions of the large industrialized shellfish operations in the Gorge are not compatible with the Official Community Plan, or the original intent of the zoning bylaws, or the desires of residents around Gorge Harbour. According to one long-time resident of Cortes, when the original aquaculture zoning bylaws were drafted, there was great concern to keep machinery out of the Gorge.

Today, there are only two aquaculture zones in the Gorge, AQ1 and AQ2. “Generators,” (implying any powered machinery), are only allowed to be used in AQ3 zones where “active aquaculture” activities are permitted (Zoning Bylaw Section 200). Only “passive aquaculture” activities are allowed in the AQ1 and AQ2 zones in the Gorge (Sections 620 & 621). Under the Bylaw stipulations of Section 102.1, if generators are not specifically permitted in passive aquaculture, they are de facto disallowed. Thus, Island Sea Farms is in contravention of the existing bylaws despite what the current director for Cortes Island has authorized on her own initiative (she also quashed the Regional District’s legal suit against Island Sea Farms’ use of machinery).

ISF is also in contravention of the previous and the present Official Community Plan (OCP) which repeatedly emphasizes the goal of maintaining a comfortable rural lifestyle for residents (Sections 301,302,303a,304.4a,415.2k[i-v],415.3.1c,602.13). This is the reason that I decided to life on Cortes Island 17 years ago. I did not come here to listen to noisy machinery all day long as if I was living next to a factory.

The establishment of large-scale industrial shellfish operations in the Gorge has effectively ruined prospects for a comfortable rural lifestyle for myself and many other residents around Gorge Harbour due to machinery noise, frequent highspeed boat traffic, and vistas full of shellfish rafts. I write books and articles for an income, so quiet is important to me.

According to the OCP, economic activities on Cortes are supposed to be small-scale, sited so as not to interfere with other stakeholders, and so as not to disrupt the rural lifestyle on Cortes (Sections 301,303a,304.2c,304.2e,304.4a,304.4d,415.2k[i-v]). The large-scale Island Sea Farms shellfish operation fails on all counts.

But perhaps the most important concern expressed in the Cortes OCP is with protecting the environment, including the marine environment (Sections 301,302,303h,303i,303j,304.1,304.2c,406,406.1.2Aiv,406.1.2Avi,406.1.2Bii,415,415.1,415.2c,415.2j,415.2m[ii-iv]). Gorge Harbour is an enclosed bay with a raised sill at its entrance which essentially traps anything that falls to the seafloor in the Gorge. It is highly vulnerable to ecological impacts, and marine biologists have consistently recommended NOT placing high densities of shellfish rafts in enclosed bays. According to a Massachusetts Whitepaper, a single raft can produce up to 16 tons of feces from its shellfish in less than a year. There are over 500 rafts in Gorge Harbour. Readers can do the calculations of how many hundreds or thousands of tons of fecal material that means is entering the Gorge Harbour ecosystem every year with little chance of being flushed out. The result is a desert seascape on much of the marine floor which lacks oxygen and is covered with sulphide bacterial matts in most of the areas sampled.

Mr. Hilton distorts his company’s record on noise levels. I recorded decibel levels well over 80 from my property across from Tan Island. While 65 decibels may be the level authorized by the current regional director, even this is far too loud for a “comfortable, rural lifestyle” when it goes on for 8 or more hours, day after day (not just on Sundays and Tuesdays). There have been a constant stream of complaints about these issues over the years, so it is not as if the company responds immediately, or willingly to a single complaint at the west end of the Gorge. Moving the machinery barge out of the west end because of a single complaint is not an acceptable solution. It only transfers the problem to other residents. The only real solution is the adhere to the original intention of the aquaculture zoning bylaws and prohibit machinery from shellfish operations in Gorge Harbour.

Brian Hayden

Hold On There! (floaters)
Comment by North Wood Doc on 27th November 2016
As I understand the conversation, Glickmans have looked into the potential of a facility for pump outs. As I understand the outcome the property does not lend itself to that endeavor. It didn’t seem like they were trying to escape responsibility in my opinion. I am not speaking for Glickmans or GHM. I have not met Richard or Michelle but I do use their facility, TY.

I do have to contest/debate the position that Gorge boaters flush and are the reason for water issues cited at Mansons and Shark for the simple reason that there is a significant and drastic tide change that occurs at these points. Zillions of gallons of water flow in and out of the area across the stretch (Manson/Shark) effectively flushing the area in my opinion. To test this theory one could place a floating object on water and monitor its journey for moments hours or possibly even longer if a GPS was attached and monitored. I do think this would disprove the waters are stagnating and prove that whatever is put in water is drawn away from the areas mentioned. (Manson/Shark)

A long time resident made an interesting comment at Mansons one day.
"Cortesian X" suggested that the clams in Manson’s are better off with something to eat/filter in winters where typical lack of nutrition cause the clams to thin.

Also, if I may, the sewage culprits in my current view are the cheap old dirty small sailboats dumping raw sewage (due to no holding tanks) at or near the beaches you cite. Newer bigger boats all have holding tanks. Many older cruiser boats are retrofitted with holding tanks but sailboaters often claim that they have no space that lends to a holding tank in older smaller vessels. I have also heard that smaller vessel owners seem to think their dumping of raw sewage is not an issue...

I expect that any decent Skipper/yacht would flush holding tank while underway and away from ports of call. This is the standard ethic among the boaters I know. With the bigger boats the contents of the holding tank is mashed and strewn over an area while underway dispersing the parts per million at a minimum where as direct non holding tank dumping tends to display solids in water.

I wonder how the Indian people’s dealt with this issue way back.
Economies of Scale
Comment by Fred Morris on 25th November 2016
Mr. Hayden and Mrs. Glickman are totally wrong in believing small scale operations can make a go of it and have the payroll impact that the large scale operations make. When the Glikmans took over the Marina they enlarged it greatly. Why? Because it would not pay off unless it was large scale. Why doesn't Mr. Hayden complain about the noise and pollution all those diesel engines and holding tanks make at the marina? The complaint seems to be one sided and it seems there are other motives for the nonsense complaints

What Wasn't Said by Mr Hayden ....
Comment by Dan Hilton on 25th November 2016
Dear Mr.Hayden, I have not distorted noise level recordings. The decibel levels that I included in my article came from the regional inspector that was brought in at your request and a second time by the Glickmans. No further action was taken by the region and that speaks for itself and I'm surprised you didn't mention that. Your comment about high speed boats doesn't take into account the number of boats that come into the marina nor recreational boaters. My ears have been ringing after sea planes have skimmed over my head on the way to the marina almost every day in the summer but you haven't had a problem with that?
speaking of sewage...
Comment by Myann Woolley on 25th November 2016
The closest sewage pumpout station for marine vessels is in Campbell River, so IF the goal is to attract more boaters to our local waters, PLEASE can the Gorge Marina look into the provision of a pumpout station. The ocean water quality around Cortes is visibly impacted during the summer (i.e. Shark Spit and Manson's Lagoon) because those yachts that come out of the Gorge empty their sewage holding tanks right into the ocean.