Volunteers representing a broad coalition of groups removed tons of garbage from in and around derelict boats stranded on the Oak Bay side of Cadboro Bay near the border with Saanich. (Black Press file)

Volunteers representing a broad coalition of groups removed tons of garbage from in and around derelict boats stranded on the Oak Bay side of Cadboro Bay near the border with Saanich. (Black Press file)

UBCM calls for national strategy on abandoned boats

Nearly a dozen derelict boats continue to sit on Cadboro Bay

Delegates at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Convention have called on the federal government to develop a national strategy to deal with abandoned boats.

Specifically, they endorsed a resolution co-sponsored by Victoria, Oak Bay, Ladysmith, that called on the federal government to pass Bill C-352, a private member’s bill that tabled New Democratic Member of Parliament Sheila Malcolmson earlier this year.

The act — which has received first reading — would make the Canadian Coast Guard responsible for cleaning up abandoned vessels among other measures. It calls on Ottawa to develop and implement a national strategy to address the abandonment of vessels by improving vessel registration, implementing recycling facilities and supporting salvage businesses, among other measures.

The question of abandoned boats has vexed coastal communities like Saanich and Oak Bay, thanks in part to disputes about responsibility. The resolution (not surprisingly) identifies Ottawa as the lead agency for derelict vessels, a position local MP Murray Rankin recently echoed.

Wednesday’s UBCM vote comes after plans to quickly rid Cadboro Bay of more than a dozen derelict boats and debris have once again struck a proverbial reef.

At least that is what it felt like after Oak Bay council received a staff report that showed Oak Bay between a rock and a hard place on the issue.

A report urged Oak Bay to continue its participation in the search for regional options through the Capital Regional District.

But relying on the CRD may not turn out to be so fruitful either. Coun. Kevin Murdoch said Oak Bay had “no guarantee” that any action would be taken.

Efforts to clean the boats have been on hold since May because of funding issues.

Some wheels are turning though. Oak Bay council in July approved a $4,000 grant from an unallocated grant in aid funds to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club to assist in the continued clean up and removal of derelict vessels located on the beach in Cadboro Bay. Oak Bay staff will assist on the actual day of clean up, whose date remains uncertain.

Local MLA Andrew Weaver also recently announced that the province would assist with the clean up. Details however remain sparse.

Previous estimates put the clean up at around $14,000.