Crowder still hopeful derelict boat lobby may see results

Cowichan’s most high-profile derelict ship, the Dominion may be gone from Cowichan Bay, but the larger issue of derelict ships in local waters has yet to be addressed. - Andrew Leong/file
Cowichan’s most high-profile derelict ship, the Dominion may be gone from Cowichan Bay, but the larger issue of derelict ships in local waters has yet to be addressed.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Persistence is paying off in getting derelict boats yanked from some harbours, Cowichan MP Jean Crowder says.

But while the NDP member was delighted a few small crafts were removed recently from Oak Bay Marina, Crowder was anxious to anchor Ottawa's action on her private-member's bill concerning derelict vessels plaguing all Canadian shores.

"There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of abandoned vessels; they don't have an accurate count of how many there are."

She cited the replica paddle-wheeler Beaver that replaced oil-laden Dominion in Cowichan Bay when it was towed to Mexico for salvaging.

To Crowder, the long saga behind July's disappearance of the Dominion displayed a fleet of bureaucratic and jurisdictional snags between our federal departments of transport, fisheries and environment.

For instance, Oak Bay's boats may have posed navigational risks, sparking Transport Canada's involvement.

It also helped have an RCMP marine crew tagging those idle crafts, warning the vessels and buoys could be removed.

Fisheries folks can act if boats are a harming fish or habitat; environment staff gets involved if a vessel is polluting.

Despite Oak Bay's success, Crowder repeated her concerns about Canada lacking clear laws for the Coast Guard, and perhaps police, to seize, sell or scrap derelict boats, then prosecute the owners.

She was happy with some legislative progress being made in Ottawa.

"I've had the best response from (Transport Minister) Lisa Raitt than from any other minister in the (Conservative) government," said Crowder, noting Raitt's recent derelict-vessel correspondence.

"They said a group is working on (derelict ship laws), and looking at Washington State's model, which is good news," she said of that state's vessel registration-fee reserve funding removal of dumped boats.

"They've been able to get about 500 vessels off the water, and our relentless pressure is starting to have an effect."

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