After years of delaying the inevitable, a derelict boat has again drifted into Saanich’s end of the Gorge Waterway.
The broken white catamaran off Curtis Point is not the first derelict boat in the Gorge but it’s the first in recent memory that Saanich has had to deal with. It showed up one morning during the tail winds of Hurricane Oho prior to Thanksgiving.
“Because of the strong tidal currents that come under the [Gorge Bridge] boats really don’t drift up this way,” said Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge-Tillicum Community Association.
And because the boat in question is not polluting, Saanich, Victoria, Gorge-Tillicum, police and others are handcuffed in what they can do.
Wickson was outspoken at Saanich council on Monday, asking for assistance and a resolution to deal with the catamaran.
“Anyone in their right mind sees it’s a derelict boat, I called police and fire departments, and there’s nothing we can do,” Wickson said.
Coun. Fred Haynes suggested Gorge-Tillicum association forward the name (which they have part of) of the boat’s owner to Saanich staff for the latter to track down, which is one of the only solutions in dealing with an abandoned or derelict boat due to strict Transport Canada rules.
“[Gorge-Tillicum] is not equipped to deal with personnel issues like this [finding the boat owner], we need assistance,” Wickson said. “We just want to get the conversation going. If we need to lobby the government, then let’s start lobbying.”
Couns. Susan Brice and Vicki Sanders recalled a previous instance where they spent $7,000 of time and resources only to fall short of dealing with a derelict boat in Cadboro Bay.
Saanich did pass a bylaw amendment around anchored boats on Monday though it won’t solve the issue. Council ruled that live-a-board or functioning boats can anchor for only 72 hours within 300 metres of a Saanich shoreline.
That ruling comes as Victoria is acquiring a water lease that will give them the ability to oust a handful of live-a-boards near Bamfield Park on the Gorge.
Coun. Vic Derman suggested with the new federal government coming in, now is a good time to look into lobbying the federal government, “perhaps by getting the rest of the municipalities in the region to sign the same letter and send it to MPs and MLAs.”
The real issue comes from Transport Canada’s Shipping Act which bars people from removing abandoned boats.
“We do not have the ability to remove a boat without putting Saanich in serious position of liability,” said CAO Andy Laidlaw. “It’s a lengthy process with Transportation Canada.
“We tried with our bylaw department to find a remedy to this situation, I know it’s frustrating for people.”
Transport Canada’s website boasts a humorous flow chart regarding abandoned boats that whittles all questions down to three options, all of them the same: contact the owner, contact the owner and contact the owner.