Half a dozen derelict boats washed ashore in Cadboro Bay over the weekend, leaving local organizations and jurisdictions scrambling to organize a clean up.
The boats appeared on both the Saanich and Oak Bay sides of the bay after a weekend of heavy wind – southeast gusts up to 80 km/h hit Greater Victoria on Saturday, leaving thousands of Islanders without power, including 224 Oak Bay customers.
Eric Dahli, Dead Boat Society co-founder and chair of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association says at least four boats have washed up and two have sunk. At least one boat is leaking gasoline into the water.
I love the smell of gasoline in the morning. Wrecked boats in Cadboro Bay are still leaking gasoline. Locals cleaning up alone. Vessels need to removed promptly: next storm will break them up & it will be much more expensive. Today's pics from #OakBay. #worldclass #YYJ #saanich pic.twitter.com/kiGykMV9bH
— Ian Hinkle (@ianhinkle) January 20, 2020
“This many boats is very unusual,” he said. “It was a fairly significant storm.”
Dahli speculated that some of the boat owners could have been new to Cadboro Bay and not familiar with the windy conditions there.
“It’s very windy, very shallow and has a sandy bottom,” he said. “Therefore, one must let out an incredible amount of rope and chain so the boat remains secure.”
|The Dead Boat Society says the mooring line wore off one of six boats washed up near Cadboro Bay over the weekend. (Courtesy of Jerry Donaldson)|
The Dead Boat Society has been in touch with the District of Oak Bay, the District of Saanich and the Coast Guard, but the clean-up process is complex and multi-jurisdictional. Municipal, provincial and federal governments each have control over separate portions of oceans and shorelines in the area.
Dahli notes that one boat is on the border between Oak Bay and Saanich, further complicating the clean up.
The Society first works to find the owners of the boats, but often registration numbers come back without names or contact information. At that point the derelict vessels must be re-registered.
“It’s a very, very long process,” Dahli said. “And in the meantime sadly, those boats are up on the beach. Our job is to do whatever we can to bring together all the various levels of government … to get everyone together, singing from the same song sheet in order to get the bay clean.”
Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch echoed the frustration of boat clean-up bureaucracy. For the most part, the District’s hands are tied, he said, adding it’s likely that – as they have in the past – the District will provide in-kind funds, equipment and personnel to help get the boats off the beach and out of the water.
He says the bigger question is the enforcement of proper mooring and the ability to get derelict boats out of the water before they wash ashore – something Oak Bay does not have the jurisdiction to do.
“There are significant environmental concerns – gas tanks and sewage and all kinds of waste,” Murdoch said. “This is definitely outside of our municipal jurisdiction. We’re filling the gaps that should be managed by the federal government.
“It’s a frustrating thing I think for everyone, for neighbours, for the people on the boats, the people on the shoreline and for the municipality as a whole.”
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