Evictions rescinded for Maple Bay boat owners

Boat owners moored outside marinas in Maple Bay will get a reprieve while the Municipality of North Cowichan figures out a long-term policy for the vessels.

On July 9, all owners were issued eviction notices by the municipality, whether they had been moored there for decades or days. Council received a report from Director of Development Scott Mack on Wednesday that included, among other recommendations, the suggestion that the notices be rescinded until formal and updated regulations can be created.

Mack’s recommendations did not come with a date attached, but council agreed that the issue should be dealt with before June 30, 2015, prior to the summer boating season.

The other recommendations, all of which were accepted by council, included asking staff to work closely with Transport Canada and the RCMP to take immediate action against derelict vessels and illegal mooring buoys, to investigate enhanced zoning regulations for boats and buoys, to look into lease agreements with the provincial government in order go get regulatory control over key marine areas, and to consult with the boating community, the Maple Bay Community Association, and other stakeholders.

Coun. Al Siebring put forth an amendment, which council agreed on, to have staff look into the possibility of putting a sewage pump-out station in the area, perhaps using the Maple Bay sewer reserve fund.

Mack’s report was received just minutes after Bryan Dixon spoke to council on behalf of the Birds Eye Cove Boaters Group, an informal association of owners of boats moored in Maple Bay.

Dixon addressed the issue of the Trojan, a derelict tugboat which, according to Dixon, some boaters said represented "the worst of the boating community," and which had been at the centre of many concerns about moorage in Maple Bay. The Trojan was towed from the bay by the RCMP in July.

Dixon emphasized that the Trojan is not typical of those who use mooring buoys in Maple Bay, and that he doesn’t want all boat owners to be painted with the same brush.

"Other than the Trojan, all of the boats are in good repair and used regularly," he stated.

Boat owners are particularly interested in the state of the bay, and want to work with North Cowichan to help create regulations.

"We are probably more concerned about the safety and usability of the harbour than anyone else, because we use it," he said.

Dixon said perceived concerns of fire and property damage, environment, derelict vessels and sewage discharge are all non-issues. Easy solutions include regular enforcement of existing regulations, an available pump-out facility, collaboration between groups before conflicts arise, and engagement with boaters, all of which were addressed in Mack’s report to council.