A local conservation group promises it will continue to work with the Capital Regional District, despite a dispute over funding for the removal of derelict boats from Cadboro Bay.
“The CRD needs our organization as much as we need them,” said John Roe, of the Veins of Life Watershed Society. “We get it done [and] I will continue to work with staff at the CRD in the professional way we always have. We are just volunteers.”
Roe made these comments after he and other volunteers continue to search for $10,000 to complete the second phase of a clean up project to remove some 14 derelict boats from the Oak Bay side of Cadboro Bay.
Volunteers representing a broad coalition including Veins of Life Watershed Society and the Cadboro Bay Residents Association had gathered on May 13 on the premise that they would be removing the boats, only to learn that they lacked the funding to complete the entire project after the CRD had made what organizers called was a “last-minute” funding change.
While volunteers hauled 4.5 tons garbage out of the boats and the surrounding area to decrease the fire hazard, the boats themselves remain on the Oak Bay side of the beach and several members of the coalition publicly blamed the CRD.
“We orginally were told that we were going to get enough money to do it all in one day,” said Eric Dahli, president of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association “The CRD at the last minute…reneged and just gave us a small portion of the funding,” he said at the time.
CRD spokesperson Andy Orr said the CRD lacks the budget to clean up derelict boats, adding it is not the CRD’s responsibility. “As you know it is federal, and this debate has been playing out in Ottawa,” he said.
The CRD, said Orr, used the one available tool, contributing $4,000 through the Community Clean-Up Assistance Program to help cover the “costs for the removal, recycling and disposal of garbage” from the cleanup effort.
“If the board wants to get into cleaning up beaches in a bigger way, they will have to budget for it,” he said.
Orr said CRD had made organizers aware of the process. “Perhaps there was some misunderstanding, but maybe they should also have tried to fundraise in other ways,” he said.
Roe said he has had a “long tradition” of working with CRD staff. “This fund was originally established through Bob Gillespie of Saanich with the CRD, because of our just-do-it campaign for [garbage] removal from our creeks and shorelines.”
Roe said in the past that he would have called the person who managed this fund, show them the monies raised, as well as the community and industry partners, and within a day or two they would ask how much was needed.
“So conversation and emails back and forth left me with the understanding that there was a strong chance of this funding,” said Roe.
While Roe said he does not “necessarily agree” with the CRD’s decision, he said he understands it. “It’s the way it was delayed,” he said.
Volunteers have since said that they will ask all spheres of government for funding to complete the clean-up project.