The president of a leading local environmental organization expressed frustration with the lack of response by officials to a sunken boat off North Saanich now threatening the environment of Patricia Bay.
“Given the fact that we are within sight of the (Canadian) Coast Guard, there is equipment and personnel and everything right there and we can’t keep (Patricia) Bay free of derelict boats, then what part of the coast are they guarding, if they are not guarding their own?” said Ian Bruce, president of the Peninsula Streams Society.
He made those comments as some 20 society volunteers were removing various debris from the beach as part of an emergency cleanup following the recent storm.
Bruce said the society organized the cleanup after a community volunteer had reached out about debris from the 50-foot sailboat currently sitting aground off the shore of West Saanich Road, just north of the Institute of Ocean Sciences jetty, reaching the beach.
“She was picking up diesel-soaked pieces of Styrofoam,” he said. “There were pieces of boat that were too big for her to deal with. So she reached out to Peninsula Streams Society to come and help,” said Bruce, whose call for an emergency beach cleanup was answered by more than 20 volunteers the next day. “I’m proud of my volunteers.”
Bruce said he hopes that the break-up of the boat will stimulate action by the Canadian Coast Guard and other authorities to remove the boat. “It’s not doing the local environment any good. As you know, derelict and abandoned boats are a problem all around Greater Victoria, so we need action.”
He also hopes that the break-up of the boat will galvanize the community to revitalize a stewardship group called the Friends of Pat Bay Watershed which existed from about 2002 to 2012. Bruce said the group faded away as members aged. “Now, younger people have moved into the neighbourhood and it’s time to have that group re-energized. Pat Bay has a lot going on. It has two creeks (Tseycum Creek and Ten-Ten Creek) coming into it, it has clam beds, it has forage fish spawning.”
The area also borders Tseycum First Nation.
“This has been their territory for a long, long, long time and this activity that we are doing today is with permission of Tseycum First Nation,” said Bruce.
Officials from the Canadian Coast Guard told Black Press Media earlier this month that the boat presents a low risk for pollution. A statement from the Coast Guard said it has responded to 200 vessels reported along the B.C. coast.
“The Canadian Coast Guard has a list of over 1,500 known vessels along the coast of B.C. that are considered wrecked, abandoned or hazardous,” it reads. “Due to the high number of problem vessels coast-wide, Coast Guard must prioritize its response to these vessels on a hazard risk basis. The responsibility for any vessel first lies with the registered owner.”
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