On October 27 all levels of government came together to show solidarity and support for NDP MP Nanaimo-Ladysmith Sheila Malcolmson’s abandoned vessel Bill C-52 and voice their concerns on the potential threat they pose to the coast.
Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, NDP MLA Nanaimo-North Cowichan Doug Routley, Ladysmith Maritime Society Executive Director Rod Smith, and Ladysmith Town Councillor Steve Arnett spoke up in support of Malcolmson’s Bill following the sinking of yet another vessel in Ladysmith’s “dog-patch” area on October 23.
The Anapaya had been identified in 2014 as a boat of concern by Transport Canada yet nothing was done.
The Coast Guard and Saltair Marine deployed an oil containment boom to limit the damage. Cleanup efforts are underway as we go to press.
“Salvage work is dangerous work. It’s much safer for people to work on what’s on the surface than having to now go below to do this work. So much better if it were dealt with in 2014 when it was identified,” said Stone.
“This is a problem that’s happening on our coast and throughout the country,” said Malcolmson. “Dealing with these vessels once they’re sitting in the bottom of the harbour is the wrong time to be taking action.” She stressed the need for a comprehensive coast wide-solution.
Ladysmith has a large concentration of abandoned vessels. When larger municipalities enforce their bylaws it has the unintended consequences of a vessel that was marginal being pushed into Ladysmith harbour. Once it gets to a point where it becomes abandoned, we get into environmental problems, said Malcolmson.
While this is a country-wide problem, it is predominantly here in Ladysmith harbour area, noted Routley where there are a number of boats in disrepair and wrecks littering the harbour.
Malcolomson said the bill is not addressing concerns about live aboards, but is exclusively targeting vessels where the owners have walked away. “We don’t want anybody that is a live aboard to feel threatened at all. “
Ladysmith Community Marina has become a destination for many boaters.
At the Pacific Northwest Marina Operators conference, it was mentioned the Ladysmith Community Marina, operated by the Ladysmith Maritime Society, was listed in the top 10 (out of 400) marinas in the Pacific Northwest to visit, said Rod Smith.
Boating visitor numbers are up 66 per cent since 2014, 6,000 people visit in a season, with repeat visitors growing. “These visitors gladly spend over $1 million in our community and around the region.,” said Smith. But this is all at risk if derelict and abandoned vessels continue to sink or burn in our harbour or linger on the beach at the entrance to our harbour…boaters will go elsewhere.”
Standing on the end of the Ladysmith Community Marina dock Town Councillor Steve Arnett looks at the mast and rigging visible above the water. “Imagine if we had the $1.2 million spent on the Viki Lyne removal and the money this is going to cost … to invest here instead. We’re talking about local economy, tourism, and the residual fact of people going, wow, I think I’d like to have a boat.
On October 30, the federal government introduced legislation on abandoned vessels. The announcement comes weeks ahead of scheduled debate on the bill.
Malcolmson’s Bill would make the coast guard responsible for directing removal of abandoned vessels, improve vessel registration and test a vessel recycling program.