Brentwood Bay boaters challenge District for the bay

A new Licence of Occupation has been filed by a group of Brentwood Bay boaters which intends to compete with an existing proposal from the District of Central Saanich.

Sue Stroud, the secretary for the newly-formed Brentwood Bay Marine Community Society, said the group registered on Jan. 22, 2018 under the BC Societies Act.

“We believe that a community approach to problem solving is the best way to solve any difficulty,” said Stroud, adding “the best way to do this is through the good neighbourliness that people find helpful in times of emergency and it’s less of a burden to the limited finances of the community as a whole.”

RELATED: Brentwood Bay boaters pack council chambers.

Stroud said the District did not go boat-to-boat to inform liveaboard residents of their plans and that they were not included in meetings prior to an online PlaceSpeak consultation set up by the District. She felt the consultation exacerbated “prejudices” from landowners over those in liveaboards.

RELATED: Central Saanich floating new derelict vessel rules.

“We feel we have a more inclusive, egalitarian model and once we get going it’ll be a model that other inlets and bays along the coast might want to follow,” said Stroud.

“We feel we have more skills than they have,” said Stroud, who said the community includes search-and-rescue personnel, former pilots who can provide advice on floatplanes and biologists living on boats who could care for the eelgrass at no cost to the District.

RELATED: Brentwood Bay issues dog Central Saanich council.

The group feels the Districts proposed fees for moorage would not directly contribute to the health of the bay, and would only cover administrative costs and third-party monitoring since the Coast Guard would still be responsible for derelict vessels. Stroud said constant third-party monitoring would be unlikely and that boaters themselves would still have to report problems to the Coast Guard and she said they already do.

Mayor Ryan Windsor said this does not change the District’s plans for the moment. Both proposals are currently with the province.

“Unlike what the boaters have said all along, that we haven’t consulted, the reason we are aware of their concerns is because we have consulted. I suspect they just don’t like what they’re hearing from us,” said Windsor.

He said the District was never contacted by the Brentwood Bay Marine Community Society and instead learned about this in an email late last night from a third party.

“I think it shows a lack of respect by [the] society.”

A District FAQ says the working group were open for drop-ins to remove barriers to participation and that created the plan had “over 30 participants and at least 11 participants are believed to live on their boat (six specifically signed in stating they were liveaboards).”

Windsor said he has received positive feedback from other community groups and individuals. At a meeting in December, the Saanich Inlet Protection Society (SIPS) spoke in favour, though Stroud said SIPS did not contact the boaters, either, saying “over time, groups tend to talk to themselves rather than the community as a whole.” The District has also been in contact with the Tsartlip First Nation during this process and Windsor said he spoke with them March 13 and they were not aware of the new society’s plans.

“The reality is that this society has a view, and it is not widely shared,” Windsor continued. “The District is moving forward because the view that is widely held is the one we believe is broadly represented by the number of stakeholders we’ve consulted and we are moving forward.

“What’s the guarantee that they’ll even exist next year? They may, but they may not.”

Windsor said the province will have to consider the possibility that the society could fail, said Windsor, whereas “the District of Central Saanich is a government entity. We will continue to exist.”

“We are satisfied that we reached out to all those boaters over and over again,” said Windsor.

Windsor said while some boaters claim to not have participated, yet their names appeared on PlaceSpeak going back to August 2017.

“To me that doesn’t make any sense.”

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