A group already motivated to keep waterways clear formalized last year and starts 2017 with a code of conduct to guide its goals.
Catalyzed by too many irresponsible owners, Oak Bay Maritime Community Association members specifically hope to deal with derelict boats.
“It’s become like the Wild West out there,” said member Robert Hall.
He recalls three boats in the bay when he started mooring his there in 1978.
“Over the years marinas have become more and more expensive,” said Hall, who has used both the bay and marina for moorage in the intervening years. The shift from wood to fibreglass crafts causes some of the problem, he says. “After a while you’re left with a bathtub that you really don’t know what to do with it.”
The group includes about 40 area residents, mostly boat owners, and is dedicated to working together for the preservation and enhancement of the local maritime community.
Their new code of conduct has 19 points but one stands out, the dedication to working with the municipality toward the common goal of achieving the best use of the recreational and mooring potential of this valuable bay and its beaches for local and transient boaters, residents and tourists, and to reform bylaws and regulations to achieve reasonable regulation of all activity compliant with federal and provincial law.
A small group of members has dedicated itself for the past few years to informing boaters in the bay of regulations and encouraging boat owners who neglect the condition of their boats or moorings of the need to conform to accepted practice.
Now the bay is down to a handful of responsible live-aboards, between four and two in recent months Hall says. Just enough, he expects, to keep problems at bay on the untended boats.
The real problem as the new group sees it, is those vessels that appear abandoned.
The group is considering utilizing Transport Canada in its battle to remove some vessels.
Transport Canada does not have the authority to remove a boat unless it poses a potential or immediate hazard to navigation, but can authorize on a case-by-case basis someone to remove abandoned boats or dispose of or destroy wrecks if the owner is unknown.
Under the Canada Shipping Act, when someone finds and takes possession of a wreck, the Receiver of Wrecks will try to locate the owner.
The Receiver of Wrecks can authorize its disposal or destruction by a salvager when the owner is unknown 90 days after a wreck has been reported.
“There are two or three we’ve been keeping an eye on,” Hall said.
They want to work with the municipality to help “solve the problem of derelict boats and make the place a welcoming place to visit,” Hall said, adding he’d like to see some mooring set aside for visitors. “We want to work with the municipality. We are stakeholders just as important as others … a lot of people should have a voice.”
Members came out to address council when Oak Bay considered foreshore leases as a way to battle derelict vessels in the community. While council chose at the time not to seek foreshore leases, it remains a topic as they develop the next strategic planning document.
“We have to try something, we want to preserve what we have. There have to be some viable solutions,” Hall said, adding the problem exists up and down the Island and even the coast. “We can look at other areas and look at perhaps implementing some similar (regulations).”
Visit www.oakbaymaritimecommunityassociation.wordpress.com to see the full code of conduct. Contact Hall at 250-598-1359 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to join the association.