Don’t expect the derelict boats along Oak Bay’s end of Cadboro Bay beach to be removed anytime soon.
While the District of Saanich has moved quickly in recent years to remove boats from its shoreline (at least, as rapidly as a municipality can against the quagmire of legislation that protects abandoned shipwrecks), Oak Bay believes the greater imperative is a regional solution to the problem.
“There’s no intention on the part of Oak Bay to take action at this time,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen. “If there are health and safety concerns of an acute nature we would take action.”
Oak Bay council, he said, is currently waiting on a December-ordered CRD report that will develop a consistent approach and/or a model bylaw for local governments to deal with problem vessels. The report is expected back in early 2017, and Oak Bay is waiting for CRD to take the lead before it will take any further steps to deal with the problem.
“These boats start as live-aboards, and may be used as live-aboards for a short period of time, and then they’re just abandoned,” Jensen said. “The local municipalities need to present a unified front in dealing with the problem, if one community starts a crackdown on the boats, they end up somewhere else, as we’ve seen.”
The province also has a role in this, Jensen said.
“Many of the [shipwrecks] are within [the province’s] jurisdiction when they’re on the beaches. It’s costly to have these boats removed and recycled, so we need a comprehensive program where municipal, provincial and federal governments work together.”
In the meantime, the string of wrecks along the Oak Bay shoreline of Cadboro Bay continues to irk residents on the Saanich end of the neighbourhood.
Members of Cadboro Bay Residents Association will vote at this month’s meeting on whether or not to write a letter to Oak Bay urging immediate action on a group of derelict fibreglass sailboats next to the Oak Bay-Saanich border of Hibbens Close.
“Who knows what is seeping out of those wrecks,” said CBRA president Eric Dahli. “Out of sight or not, the same damage is done to the environment.”
But because the boats are not on a main beach they are not an Oak Bay priority, and are fuel for prompting a bigger discussion.
Around the bend at Oak Bay Marina, the Oak Bay Marine Group has invested a great deal of time and effort over many years to be part of the solution. They cite the jurisdictional quagmire and a lack of funding as the main barriers delaying a permanent resolution.
“We are all aiming to find a solution to the existing problem, and ideally, a future wherein the bay adjacent to the marina is properly controlled, encouraging local and visiting boaters alike to stay and enjoy all of the amenities and businesses that Oak Bay has to offer,” said Oak Bay Marine Group spokesperson Susan Barcham.
Jensen would like to see a provincial program similar to that of Washington state, with a fund to deal with these boats.