The shorelines surrounding Oak Bay-Gordon Head are beautiful, though not always pristine.
Derelict vessels wash up in and around the shoreline from time to time. They can be eyesores and pose environmental risks, but they serve another purpose – highlighting the difficulty of getting three levels of government to split a tab, says one local MLA.
“Derelict vessels, to give you some context, it’s a very complex file because these boats on the water are jurisdiction of DFO, these boats when they come into tidal zones become provincial jurisdiction, and when they’re on the land they’re municipal jurisdiction,” said Weaver. “So everybody points finger at everyone else in terms of trying to stay who responsible.”
“I think that what were doing here is one-offs to deal with big problems, but that actually isn’t addressing the fundamental issues. The fundamental issue is we need to have on an ongoing basis the removal of derelict vessels on our coastline, and its a federal responsibility by in-large. There are examples when the coast guard will find a vessel that’s lost floating, maybe nobody even owning it, and it gets tied tied on to a buoy in Cadboro bay beach.”
The federal government recently announced an additional $6.85 million to its abandoned boat program, although just a little over $410,000 is designated in B.C, and none directed to Oak Bay or Saanich.
Weaver said billing boat owners themselves before their boats end up derelict might be the answer to keeping funds at hand for prompt removals.
“In Washington State they have a licensing fee. When you get a boat, part of your fee goes towards an organization that’s responsible to clean these things up off the coast line if they wash ashore,” Weaver said. “Were not talking billions but there’s clearly need for millions of dollars accessible somehow.”
Weaver said he was pleased with how all three levels of government were able to come together in 2017 to clean up the shorelines. He also cites it as an example of listening to constituent issues—notably concerns brought up by the Cadboro Bay Residents’ Association—and seeing the issue to its’ end.
“We shouldn’t be putting up derelict boots and tying them up to public buys and waiting for them to wash on,” Weaver said. “Given that their on, there has to be a process—there is a process, you can go through Receiver of Wrecks, etc. But it takes forever.”