Opinion: Derelict boat solution deserves a closer look

Abandoned, derelict boats must be addressed, but don't rush measures

The issue of derelict boats wreaking environmental, navigational and aesthetic havoc in local waters is not a new one. It has been plaguing Oak Bay’s bays and beaches for years.

Oak Bay is by no means alone in this frustration, however, as Victoria, Saanich and others also fight to address the issue.

Significantly complicating the issue is the myriad jurisdictions involved, a factor that did not go unmentioned during Oak Bay’s committee of the whole discussion Monday night.

Derelict vessels fall within the jurisdiction of both the provincial and federal governments and in many cases local governments end up dealing with them, often incurring the cost when boats end up on the shore.

In the wake of the costly removal of the 40-tonne concrete-hulled vessel this winter, a Saanich councillor suggested pushing for a federal program to deal with derelict and abandoned boats.

Suggestions floated at Monday’s meeting included foreshore leases, something the district currently has with Willows Beach and the Oak Bay Marina. This would move the concept into new territory, however, and council rightly opted to give it a more thorough review.

While council won’t pursue foreshore leases just yet, members agreed to further explore the issue of derelict, abandoned and live-aboard vessels during the strategic planning process. Pushing the matter at the provincial and federal levels also makes sense, and perhaps a unified approach with other jurisdictions via the Union of BC Municipalities, as Coun. Michelle Kirby suggests – will give the issue more weight.

We must address the issue of derelict and abandoned vessels, but we need to do so in a way that makes sense now, and in the future.