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Caddy Bay clean up on the way

Activists will remove derelict boats from Cadboro Bay on May 13
A number of local groups have organized a cleanup of the derelict boats washed up on Cadboro Bay beach near the Oak Bay-Saanich border for May 13. File photo

If it was up to John Roe, derelicts such as the fibreglass sailboat Shaman on the Oak Bay shoreline of Cadboro Bay wouldn’t be left there for years.

At some point, preferably the week the ship washed up on shore, the government would take care of it themselves, Roe said. However, with no proper system in place, Roe took it upon himself to register for the boats using his own name on the application to the receiver of wrecks. On April 28, Roe posted photos of the derelicts to social media, saying he was the “proud new owner” of the boats.

The derelicts and pieces of them have been there for years.

“I’ve been through all this before, it shouldn’t take the public having to do this but if this is what it takes, we are here,” Roe said.

Roe, of the Veins of Life Watershed Society, is part of a volunteer coalition with the Cadboro Bay Residents Association, the Oak Bay Residents Association, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, District of Saanich, C-Tow and Ralmax, that aim to clear out a “derelict city” of boats along Cadboro Bay beach on May 13.

On Sunday the local NDP candidate aligned himself with the matter promising action on the derelict boats issue, attacking a lack of initiation from the incumbent Liberals.

“Christy Clark ignored a decade of calls to protect our coasts from abandoned vessels, forcing local governments in B.C. to try to address the safety and environmental risks posed by abandoned vessels on a boat-by-boat basis,” said Bryce Casavant, NDP candidate for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

But Alex Dutton, Liberal candidate for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, quickly responded to the NDP statement, calling it a an un-costed promise that isn’t reflected in the NDP platform.

“…The B.C. NDP has a totally unaffordable platform,” Dutton said. “Now they are piling on new promises out of thin air… Today’s BC Liberals already had a commitment from the federal government to include this as part of their Oceans Protection Plan.”

Locally, Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen said there’s no intention on the part of Oak Bay to take action at this time, as they are waiting for a CRD study on the matter. However, Eric Dahli, outspoken president of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association, said this has gone on way too long.

“To their credit, Saanich figured out a way to do it,” he said, referring to the ongoing removal of boats from the beach of Cadboro Gyro Park. “It’s time to end the dispute over who is responsible for boats washed up on the provincial foreshore, below high tide, and municipal shoreline.”

All are invited to join in on the cleanup starting with a meeting at 10 a.m. in Cadboro Gyro Park by the “History of Cadboro Bay” sign.

“Put on your boots and bring a shovel,” Dahli said.

In the 1990s the Veins of Life Watershed Society removed boats, garbage and derelict docks from the Gorge Waterway. It revitalized the polluted inlet to the point of making it swimmable again.

Key to the effort is having C-Tow, the local business that makes a living rescuing sinking and sunken boats, contribute to the cause, Roe said. Same goes for Ralmax, who will supply industrial bins for the wreckage and cart it to the landfill.

Last week Sheila Malcolmson, MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, said she is disappointed in the federal government missing its own deadline for action on abandoned vessels. Malcolmson has pushed for new legislation to address the issue on a national level.

“Today is the six-month mark [since the federal Liberals committed to action] and we’re no closer to a solution to abandoned vessels, which are harming the environment and putting jobs at risk,” she said.

Last year Malcolmson tabled Bill C-352 to strengthen vessel registration, pilot a vessel turn-in program, create jobs by supporting local marine salvage businesses and vessel recycling, and make the Coast Guard responsible for directing the removal of abandoned vessels.

Until that happens, the system is a wild west that requires municipalities or local community groups to navigate the receiver of wrecks system, Dahli said.