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Maple Bay boat evictions rescinded

Boaters in Maple Bay can breathe easier after North Cowichan councillors heard their anger Wednesday and yanked last month's moorage eviction notices.

Council embraced staff recommendations and rescinded those July 9 kick-out orders — while vowing to revamp its bylaws governing mooring buoys and anchoring in municipal waters, by June 30, 2015.

Debate heard councillors and staff agree scrub those evictions rather than postpone them and leave boaters in limbo.

The time window will let council and staff wade through the swamp of local, provincial and federal jurisdictional hoops, then write bylaws welcoming legal, respectful boaters, or boot derelict and unsafe vessels.

Council also aims to discuss installing a vessel-sewage pump-out station in the bay to cork waste from fouling the bay. Pump-outs are already in Chemainus and Ladysmith.

Councillors began realizing their murky marine bylaws after adrift tug Trojan was deemed a navigational hazard by Transport Canada in July. It was towed to a Ladysmith dock.

While our courts have ruled long-term moorage is not an inherent right, laws about short-term anchorage remain muddy, council and staff admitted after local skippers protested the evictions.

So Wednesday also saw council agree to update its bylaws, work with the feds and the RCMP to take fast action against future dumped vessels, and illegal mooring buoys.

Revamped municipal zoning regulations will address liveaboards, derelict boats, registered federal mooring buoys, pollution, noise, stay length, and municipal permits.

Possible head leases, and their costs, for provincial marine areas will be probed too.

Finally, council will gain feedback and ideas from local boaters, and the Maple Bay Community Association, about any new regulations, council ruled.

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