Several derelict vessels, such as The Beaver seen here, have sunk or threatened to sink in Cowichan Bay over the years. (Citizen file)

Several derelict vessels, such as The Beaver seen here, have sunk or threatened to sink in Cowichan Bay over the years. (Citizen file)

Cowichan officials cautiously optimistic over new derelict vessel act

Liberals introduced the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act on Oct. 30

Officials in the Cowichan Valley are encouraged with new efforts by the federal government to deal with abandoned and derelict vessels.

But some say the new Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act that was introduced in the House of Commons by the Liberal government on Oct. 30 still requires some tweaking.

FOR RELATED STORY, CLICK HERE

Among other initiatives, for the first time the new act would make it illegal to abandon boats in Canada’s harbours and waterways.

Those who don’t comply will face a hefty fine of up to $300,000 and a six-month jail term for individuals, and up to $6 million for companies.

The act, which is part of the federal government’s Oceans Protections Plan, will also force owners of abandoned boats to remove and dispose of them safely, but new fines will not be applicable to existing derelicts.

Lori Iannidinardo, the director for Cowichan Bay for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, has worked on the issue of derelict boats for some time.

With many boats abandoned over the years in Cowichan Bay, Iannidinardo has been invited by Transport Canada to be part of a stakeholders committee to review the new act and offer recommendations.

She said she believes the federal government is finally “on track” with the new act, but a major concern for her is that the act seems to focus more on big commercial ships and not enough on pleasure craft, which is more of a problem on B.C.’s coasts.

She said she would also advocate to have a program established in which people can recycle their old boats.

“I would like to see us follow the example of the State of Washington, which has an excellent model for dealing with these vessels,” Iannidinardo said.

“Washington has set up an inventory of boats in their waters so they can follow them and bill their owners in cases where they are abandoned.”

The government’s announcement of the new act comes weeks ahead of scheduled debate on a bill, introduced by Sheila Malcolmson, NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, which would force the government to implement a comprehensive solution to clean up the thousands of abandoned vessels polluting Canada’s coasts.

She said the NDP is encouraged that the government has finally bowed to the pressure of coastal communities and will introduce legislation to deal with derelict vessels.

“Although with the Liberals, it’s often style over substance,” Malcolmson cautioned.

“We will review the legislation and ensure it lives up to expectations of coastal communities and that it offers real solutions.”

Malcolmson said that last week, another vessel sank and leaked fuel in Ladysmith Harbour while Transport Canada knew of the vessel’s risk, but failed to take any action before the sinking and resulting oil spill.

It cost more than $1 million last year to remove the derelict Viki Lyne II from Ladysmith’s harbour.

“The NDP has long called for a coast-wide strategy that would deal with abandoned vessels before they become a major source of oil spills, pollution and marine debris,” Malcolmson said.

Alistair MacGregor, NDP MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, said he’s pleased that the government has finally introduced legislation that the NDP has been requesting for some time.

“My initial opinion is that this legislation will finally enhance federal powers to dispose of these derelict and abandoned boats,” he said.

“Owners will now face financial penalties and the legislation will add more federal powers to act upon when circumstances require it. It looks good, but I also think the new legislation will require a far more thorough analysis to determine if it meets the requirements.”

While introducing the act in the House of Commons, Marc Garneau, the federal Minister of Transport, said holding vessel owners accountable for their actions is an important step in ensuring Canadians are not burdened by the effects of wrecked and abandoned vessels, nor responsible for their clean-up costs.

“This is an important stage in addressing abandoned and wrecked vessels,” he said.

“This will give the shore back to the communities and protect our coasts and the quality of our water. The Government of Canada is committed to demonstrating that a clean environment and a strong economy can go hand-in-hand.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Newton’s first law of motion

I could have sworn I told them to help each other get unbuckled and to come inside.

Commercial property owners in Duncan will have an opportunity to beef up their security in 2021 with matching grants from the municipality. (File photo)
City of Duncan to help commercial properties increase security

Municipality to set up matching grant opportunities

John and Jeri Wyatt hope the upcoming North Cowichan public hearing will move things along toward exclusion of the Chemainus River Campground from the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Input sought on Chemainus campground ALR exclusion at public hearing

Matter back on the agenda after a late reprieve in 2019 for Chemainus River Campground owners

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Most Read