With options on shore and even out at sea, there should be no reason pleasure craft in the waters of the Saanich Inlet should be dumping raw human sewage.
The Saanich Inlet Protection Society (SIPS) recently discovered there’s an exemption in place on the Inlet — allowing what is normally prohibited: the dumping of sewage directly into the water. SIPS is now conducting an online petition and enlisting the help of MP Elizabeth May to try to force the removal of that exemption.
In the further reaches of longer and more remote inlets along B.C.’s northern coast, an exemption might make sense. With no access to pump out services and forced to travel for kilometers to be able to empty their tanks, pleasure craft would find it a hardship. In this instance, such an exemption is understandable.
Not so much around southern Vancouver Island.
There are two pump out stations at marinas on the Saanich Inlet. SIPS operates a mobile facility (on its last legs this summer) and there are other facilities in North Saanich and Sidney. There is no reason why sewage holding tanks cannot be emptied using those services.
That said, Ian Cameron of SIPS notes the boating community on the Inlet is small — in the neighbourhood of 100 vessels — and little happens without other folks knowing about it. Dumping there might not be happening at an advanced rate as more and more people recognize their impact on the environment — and the services available there.
Yet, it’s better safe than sorry.
Removing the federal exemption will make the Inlet off limits to the dumping of raw sewage, as it is not wide enough to allow it under the normal rules.
Maintaining this protection is needed to help return life to local shellfish beds and ensure visitors to the Inlet are not exposed to contamination like the region has seen at public beaches in recent weeks.