A timeline of major ship-breaking events in Union Bay

Since October 2023, The Discourse has been following the ship breaking occurring in Union Bay by a company called Deep Water Recovery.

The site along Highway 19A was previously a log sort, but Deep Water Recovery has been dismantling derelict barges and vessels at the location since 2020.

The site lies amongst a cross-jurisdictional mix of regulations and has received opposition from K’ómoks First Nation, a number of community members and the Comox Valley Regional District, who took the company to court over failing to follow zoning regulations.

Generally, the federal government manages what happens offshore, including the transport of vessels to and from the site. It also has responsibilities related to the fish habitat in the tidal waters. The province manages the company’s foreshore lease, which covers activities in the water and below the high tide mark. But the land higher up is privately owned, and governed by the land use rules of the Comox Valley Regional District. The Indigenous land and water rights of the K’ómoks First Nation overlay all of this.

These jurisdictions have all been involved with policing Deep Water Recovery’s activities and responding to community members’ concerns since the company transformed the site from a log sort to a ship recycling facility about four years ago.

Canada does not have any federal rules specific to ship breaking, and the site in Union Bay is revealing the regulatory cracks in both the domestic and international shipping industry.

So how did the company get to where it is now? This timeline serves to help outline the intricacies of this operation. It will be updated alongside the coverage of more stories.

Madeline Dunnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse