The Town of Ladysmith’s bylaw enforcement officer, accompanied by RCMP Oct. 8, distributed notices to boat owners moored in ‘Dogpatch’ telling them they have until mid-November to weight anchor and move on.
Asked about the notices, Mayor Aaron Stone confirmed live-aboards in the Dogpatch have been served notice. “They would have to move on,” he said.
“The zoning bylaw says they would have a seven day maximum stay.”
The only areas where boats can be moored longer within the Town of Ladysmith’s boundaries – other than privately owned piers – are designated marinas.
The boat owners are being given an extension to Nov. 15 so they can make alternative plans. Stone said the municipality is prepared to “assist them with whatever opportunities may be out there.”
Asked what the Town of Ladysmith will do if the boat owners, some of whom have been moored in Water Lot 651 for years, do not obey the municipal notice, Stone said, “After that we will look at whatever options may be open to us.”
He said the bylaw has to be applied ‘without prejudice’ to all boat owners moored in Ladysmith’s Harbour.
There have recently been indications that Ladysmith might enforce its bylaws within Dogpatch. Oak Bay and the City of Victoria have taken steps ‘with some success’ enforcing their bylaws on crown water lots, and Ladysmith has been aware of those situations.
A 2013 legal decision in Kelowna has given municipalities confidence they can enforce their bylaws on crown water lots, even if they do not hold the leases.
“It is established that the zoning bylaws apply within crown water lots,” Stone said.
He said Ladysmith has been prompted to take action because of some ‘dangerous’ incidents that have occurred in Dogpatch recently.
On July 18 a boat moored next to the derelict Viki Lyne II burned and sank. Police suspect arson. Then in late August a boat sank just off Slack Point, with accusations that the sinking was deliberate. Next day another boat burned to the waterline in Dogpatch.
“We’ve had some dangerous incidents down there and we cannot do nothing,” Stone said.
At this point there is uncertainty how many boats house liveaboards, and how many are either abandoned or simply moored. It is not clear what the town would do with abandoned or moored vessels, whose owners can’t be reached.
“That has to be done in cooperation with other levels of government,” Stone said.