A new flag is soon to fly over White Rock, in recognition of the city’s harbour board going green.
In announcing the achievement to White Rock council last week, White Rock Harbour Board president Gary Saunders said the Clean Marine BC banner denotes more than a simple spoken pledge.
It represents extensive efforts that have been taken to ensure environmentally responsible practices – “cleaner, safer, healthier” – around the pier’s west float, and a recognition of those efforts by the Georgia Strait Alliance.
In presenting Saunders with a flag to fly and signs to hang, Clean Marine BC co-ordinator Lisa Winbourne said the program, with 7,000 members, is one of the alliance’s biggest. Completely voluntary, it launched to help marinas and boaters “green up their act,” she said.
“It was a slow start three years ago, but now the phone is ringing off the hook,” she told council, noting more and more marina customers are looking for facilities that take such steps.
Clean Marine BC began with a pilot program in 2007 that led to Sidney’s Westport Marina achieving the first eco-rating a year later.
The eco-rating of one to five anchors – determined by an independent auditor, with five being the best – signifies the level of environmental responsibility.
White Rock received a three-anchor eco-rating on July 24, following adoption of the Clean Marine BC Policy, a rigorous self-audit and an independent audit.
Through signing the Clean Marine BC Policy, marina users and operators commit, to the best of their ability, to eliminating the release of contaminants into the water; minimizing the release of pollutants into the atmosphere; avoiding contamination of the ground; adopting waste reduction, reuse and recycling strategies; optimizing energy and water conservation; promoting good environmental practices; and, abiding by or where possible, exceeding, the requirements relevant legislation.
For local members, those commitments translate to efforts including recycling; using absorption pads in their vessels’ bilge, so as not to pump oily water overboard; floating a boom around their vessels during oil changes; and not discharging their holding tanks overboard.
“If we all do our own bit towards it, collectively we can have an impact,” past-chair Ian Puchlik said Friday.
Saunders – who brought the program to the harbour board membership after learning of it during a meeting of the city’s environment committee – said he hopes the GSA recognition will help get the message out that those using the west float are environment-conscious.
“Sometimes (boaters) get labelled as being, the ones polluting. But in fact, we’re more conscious of our environment,” he said. “That’s why we boat – we love the water.”