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Council to chart new moorage bylaws

Private-boat moorage bylaws surface for debate at North Cowichan council’s 1:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday.

Discussion could swirl around staff recommendations to address complex, overlapping local, provincial and federal laws governing moorage.

Council and staff got a wave of backlash recently after the feds towed derelict, adrift tug Trojan from Maple Bay — a popular action, followed by council’s unpopular ordering of boats moored in Maple Bay to leave, as they were breaking municipal mooring bylaws.

Those rules, albeit loosely enforced, said private moorage, by anchor or mooring buoy, is not specifically allowed under North Cowichan’s current bylaws governing boats within 1,000 feet of shore.

Council eased off its edict, and is debating a bylaw revamp.

New bylaws could basically allow law-abiding boaters, while banning derelict vessels, and ordering moorage-flouting crafts to leave North Cowichan waters.

Stakeholder Bryan Dixon’s submission requests a bylaw freeze until community consultation occurs, and a bylaw revision happens.

He also urges reviewing overlapping federal and provincial mooring laws.

Dixon’s options to council include no restrictions nor time limits on anchoring; installing a coin-operated sewage pump-out facility; marking of private moorage buoys in Maple Bay, according to federal requirements; and consideration of derelict-vessel laws such as in Washington State.

Cowichan MP Jean Crowder’s proposed private-member’s bill about Canada’s derelict-craft dilemma has failed to gain Ottawa’s nod.

Senior staffer Scott Mack’s report recommends council yank its July 9 contravention notices — on the understanding further enforcement may happen once council mulls updated, formal bylaws.

Council, he said, should also direct staff to work with Transport Canada and the RCMP to take action on towing derelict and illegally moored vessels.

Council should discuss revamping its regulations about liveaboards, abandoned boats, federal mooring buoys, pollution, noise, stay length, and municipal permits.

Councillors may also consider requesting control and costs from Victoria regarding key marine areas.

Finally, council must gain regulation input from local boaters, and the Maple Bay Community Association.

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