Flashing lights part of Boundary Bay’s future
Meg Olson “We’re
going to change the way we mark the bay,” said
U.S. boundary commissioner Dennis Schornack.The
International Boundary Commission will be taking down
the towers on the Blaine and Point Roberts sides of Boundary
Bay and replacing them with a line of yellow flashing
will not only be cheaper but there will be no question
in anybody’s mind which side of the border they’re
on,” said U.S. Coast Guard commander John Barberi.The
boundary commission held two poorly attended public
meetings, one in Point Roberts and one in Delta B.C,.
at the end of February to outline why and how they will
be changing the way the border is marked.“It’s
antiquated equipment, the towers have been out there
since the ’30s,” Barberi said. Today
there are four markers establishing where the border
lies as it crosses Boundary Bay: two on the Point Roberts
and Tsawwassen side and two on the Blaine and White
Rock side. During
the day someone out on the water can tell they are on
the border when they line up graphical “ranges” mounted
on towers on and near the shore and at night
they would line up pairs of lights.
Boundary Bay weather often makes it impossible to see across the bay, or even to see both markers in the set of range markings, according to the commission.The proposal is to replace the ranges with a series of flashing yellow lights across the bay, visible from three miles and located two miles apart.The primary change will be the addition of four three-legged piling structures in the center of the bay, mounted with yellow boards and flashing yellow lights. On land the range towers, such as the 80-foot tower adjacent to the Peace Arch, will be eliminated and replaced with flashing yellow lights and boards at a height of 15 feet. Existing offshore markers, such as the tower mounted on a concrete block in Semiahmoo Bay, will be changed from fixed green and white lights to flashing yellow.“It’ll be much more visible,” Schornack said. “It has to be obvious so that people know where it is,” Canadian commissioner Peter Sullivan said. He added that a more visible border would help law enforcement with issues ranging from smuggling to fishery violations.Such is the goal of the International Boundary Commission, one commissioner and a deputy appointed from both the U.S. and Canada, working with engineers from both countries to keep the 20-foot wide stripe of boundary “vista” “entirely free of obstruction and plainly marked.”Through their efforts, the commission website touts, the 5,525-mile long border between the U.S. and Canada is “tranquil, undefended but not uncared for.”Barberi said another reason to replace and remove some of the older boundary structures is safety. “It’s such a safety hazard the contractors won’t even climb on it,” he said, “The old towers are a real eyesore,” Sullivan added.The proposed changes were advertised for 30 days closing November 24, 2006 in the U.S. Coast Guard Notice to Mariners.Schornack said work on the project will start this summer. With $180,000 projected budget, Barberi said the changes are cheaper than replacing them.
Barberi added work will be scheduled around “fish windows” to minimize environmental impacts.