Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Comox Valley Regional District goes to court to halt ship-breaking at Union Bay

The regional district is seeking orders to prohibit ship-breaking at the site and to require restoration of a nearby nature park.
Map: 5064 Island Hwy. S. near Union Bay on Vancouver Island, location of a ship-breaking business.

A ship-breaking operation at Union Bay on the east side of Vancouver Island is being taken to court by the Comox Valley Regional District which argues this industrial use is not permitted.

The regional district filed a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on April 14 seeking orders to prohibit ship-breaking at the site and to require restoration of a nearby nature park.

Union Bay Industries Ltd. and Deep Water Recovery Ltd. are the defendants. A spokesperson could not be reached Monday.

The Concerned Citizens of Baynes’ Sound and the K’omoks First Nation fear pollutants from the industrial operation will affect Baynes Sound.

Much of B.C.’s oyster production takes place in the sound.

It is an ecologically and biologically significant area and it is a major herring spawning ground, Gord Johns, NDP MP for Courtenay-Alberni, told the House of Commons. Johns and the First Nation are calling on the federal government to bring in tough ship-breaking regulations.

A spokesperson for the transport minister said the federal government is consulting with the provinces and territories on possible enhancing of Canada’s ship recycling rules.

Canada has existing rules against releasing pollutants into the marine environment, he said.

Ship-breaking is taking place at 5084 Island Highway South, within the regional district, on land owned by Union Bay Industries. The property was used in the past as a log sort and is covered by three zonings, each permitting various uses. According to the regional district, those uses do not include breaking up ships.

When ships are taken apart, their components can be recycled and sold. Vessels are being brought to the property for dismantling.

The shoreline portion of the property is zoned for industrial marine use, which lists permitted uses but does not mention ship breaking, the district’s claim states. Another portion of the property is zoned for what is called rural twenty, which permits a single family dwelling and uses including agriculture and wood processing.

A final section is zoned country residential, permitting a single detached dwelling and agriculture on lots of more than 4,000 square metres.

“The ship-breaking use is not a permitted use of the property under the zoning bylaw and is prohibited by the zoning bylaw,” the district’s claim said.

Housing on the industrial marine area is not allowed but people are now living in recreational vehicles in that part of the property, it said. The claim also said that Union Bay Industries and Deep Water Recovery or their agents entered the Glover Community Nature Park and altered lands without first getting a development permit.

Deep Water and Union Bay share the same address on Granville Street in Vancouver. Their most recent annual reports do not list directors.

A B.C. Registry document said directors for Deep Water are Mark Jurisich of Courtenay, and Andrew Bohn of Vanuatu. Those two and Robert Bohn, of Davis, California, were listed as directors of Union Bay Industries in a 2020 registry document.