Clean Marine BC Program On The Rise

Following the launch of the Georgia Strait Alliance's Clean Marine BC Program last June, some of the largest marine facilities in the province have joined the initiative. The facilities include False Creek Harbour Authority, Vancouver, BC, Maple Bay Marina, Duncan, BC, and Shelter Island Marina and Boatyard in Richmond, BC.

The program is a voluntary environmental initiative for marinas, yacht clubs, harbour authorities and boat yards, and to qualify, businesses must adhere to the Clean Marine BC Policy through an independent audit. Following a successful audit, a certificate is awarded and the recipient is entitled to fly the Clean Marine BC Flag.

“It's good business for us,” says David Messier, general manager of Maple Bay Marina. “It's great for us to promote and it has a lot of resonance with our customers. For us, this is also a marketing tool and not only that, it's the right thing to do.”

Messier explained that Maple Bay Marina, a full-service facility with dockage, a float home community, 100-seat restaurant, and maintenance shops – to name a few amenities – has undergone many environmental improvements. Among these includes a $2.5 million sewage treatment plant, a closed-loop boat maintenance yard, a full hazardous waste recycling program and even a glass bottle-recycling program. Maple Bay Marina will also be installing a new boat and pump-out station in the spring of 2010.

False Creek Harbour Authority has also made several environmental improvements. After being honoured with the National Environmental Stewardship Award earlier in late 2008, the company felt it was a natural move to join the program.

The facility has upgraded all of its lighting from T-12-style light fixtures to T-5 and T-8, and also installed lighting relay switches. Recycling electronics, batteries and metal, new on-site oil-water separators and a rain garden, which filtrates oil hydrocarbons out of the water before it gets released back into the ocean, are other initiatives.

“It's a little bit of a work-in-progress,” said Mike Loy, assistant harbour manager for False Creek Harbour Authority. “But getting into the environmental practices and regulations is where the world is going. We have to be conscious about protecting our waters. Things are changing.”

Shelter Island Marina and Boatyard, a 200- to 300-slip facility with a capacity for up to 400 boats in its yard, is also familiar with being environmentally friendly. The marina and boat yard began recycling initiatives approximately seven years ago with sewage pump-out stations, followed by a recent $175,000 130- by 150-foot wash down pit area where all the water is treated, recycled and reused, with all the contaminants taken away. The facility recycles waste in the boat yard and has implemented recycling along the marina grounds.

“I just think if you do it now, it'll be easier down the road,” said Terry McPhail, president of Shelter Island Marina and Boatyard. “You feel good about yourself, too. We own all the land here as well, so there's an added benefit of keeping everything clean.”

“I think with the economic downturn, people sort of stepped back for a while,” said Mike Richards, Clean Marine BC Program coordinator. “But people are getting a little more confident and the start of the season is always really busy for everybody. Now, people are starting to look at this program and get involved.”

The association is also expecting that a few more marinas and facilities will be signing up for the programs and undergoing audits for this fall and winter.

“There has been a lot of interest. It will gain momentum,” said Richards.

Currently, all three businesses are working with the Georgia Strait Alliance
and once they have undergone independent audits they will officially become Clean Marine BC facilities.