The on-going presence of a boat in the Gorge Waterway has renewed fears that the District of Saanich lacks the resources to deal with live-aboard and derelict boats that could be washing up off local shores as the City of Victoria moves ahead with plans to remove such vessels from its section of the waterway.
Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association, voiced those concerns as he and other local residents continue to monitor the waters off the intersection of Tillcum Road and Gorge Road, where an unnamed, white, blue-trimmed 18-foot-long Cabin Cruiser-style boat has been anchored on and off a local wharf.
On Sept. 9 district staff posted a warning on the boat that the owner is violating a district bylaw that prohibits anchorage for more than 72 hours within 300 metres of the shoreline and onboard living.
District of Saanich by-law enforcement officer Ole Jorgensen told the Saanich News Thursday morning that as far as he knew, the boat owner had not yet contacted the district. He also had no evidence that somebody is actually living on the boat. He also noted that the boat had moved since he had issued the warning ticket.
“And if it moves every 72 hours, it complies with the by-law,” he says. “I understand it was moved early this week and I’m following up this week.”
Wickson said he suspects somebody is living onboard, pointing to the boat’s green dingy as evidence.
Saanichite Bernard von Schulman said on Twitter that he believes the boat is dumping sewage into the water.
Some boats do have holding tanks but would need to make a trip out to the Salish Sea to release the tank.
Wickson says the district should be doing more, adding that its resources to deal with this issue are inadequate. Specifically, he would like to see the district take more immediate, even preventative measures.
“Where is the monitoring on a daily basis that allow us to deal with this in a timely way or prevent this happening?” he asks.
The question of resources appears to weigh heavy on the minds of area residents, if the association’s Facebook page is any measure, as several posts lament the lack of boat for local by-law officers.
Coun. Judy Brownoff, responding to these posts, said the district has “resources” to deal with the boat in question. “We (are) monitoring,” she says. If the boat is indeed abandoned, the district will have to go through “very time consuming” federal regulations to deal with it, she said.
District of Saanich’s director of planning Sharon Hvozdanski said the district’s resources “are adequate to address this particular situation” for it could and has monitored the boat from the nearby shore. “In this case, access to a boat, has not been an issue,” she said.
If necessary, the district could also drawn on maritime resources from the Saanich Police, she said.
Looking ahead, the district is aware of the importance that Saanich residents attach to this issue and depending on the situation, district staff may ask council for additional resources, Hvozdanski said.
Wickson remains committed that the district renew efforts to create an authority to manage the Gorge Waterway, including all of the various watersheds that drain into it.
Such an authority would help protect habitat by setting out rulers for boaters and land users.