Ottawa changes course on abandoned vessels

The removal of derelict or abandoned boats was one of the priorities in the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan

A new federal commitment could represent a lifeline to communities like Saanich coping with the problem of abandoned or storm-ravaged vessels washing up on their shores.

The removal of derelict or abandoned boats was one of the priorities in the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan announced by the federal government earlier this month at the University of Victoria. The announcement was welcome news to Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff, who has been championing the cause for a decade.

“It’s good [the federal government] is finally recognizing that this problem impacts jurisdictions across Canada on the water,” Brownoff said. “It will be interesting to see how the program is established, bearing in mind some of our communities don’t have the resources to clean up or deal with their boats.”

One of the major obstacles in finding a solution to derelict vessels was the previous Conservative government, which blocked numerous efforts to bring relief to communities struggling with the costs of removing abandoned vessels from their shores. But a new hand on the helm in Ottawa is reducing the risk of B.C. beaches becoming salvage yards.

Sheila Malcolmson, the NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, has tabled a bill for debate in 2017 regarding abandoned vessels.

The Bill, C-219, would essentially broaden the Coast Guard’s mandate to deal with abandoned vessels and make them the “Receiver of Wrecks”, basically to clear up the confusion around whose responsible for abandoned vessels. it will designate the Coast Guard as the receiver of wreck for the purposes of the Canada Shipping Act, allowing them to take action without being directed to by a ministry. It will also compel the government to create regulations for the removal, disposition or destruction of abandoned vessels or wrecks. year.

Malcolmson’s predecessor, Jean Crowder, brought forward a similar private member’s bill, only to have it scuttled by the Harper government.

Saanich spent more than $50,000 to remove abandoned vessels that washed up on its shores last winter. While the district isn’t in the clear just yet from avoiding similar costs in the future, the new Oceans Protection Plan indicates it could be easier for municipalities to navigate the financial hazards in the future.

– This post has been updated to correct an error.