Dogpatchers seek dialogue

Asking the Town of Ladysmith to sit down and talk before follow through

Live-aboard residents of Dogpatch are asking the Town of Ladysmith to sit down and talk before following through with a notification that the town “may take further enforcement action, including removal of any unauthorized boat after November 15.”

On Oct. 8 Ladysmith’s bylaw enforcement officer distributed notifications to boat owners moored in water lot 651, between Slack Point and the Ladysmith Community Marina. The warning advised them that they are in contravention of Bylaw 1860, which limits stays to seven days.

“In order to avoid further enforcement action you are requested to remove your boat and any unauthorized float, dock or mooring buoy from this area by Nov. 15,” the notice says.

But the ‘Ladysmith Harbour Community’ has responded with a request for a meeting. “The group is promoting our current and future use of the anchorage in a safe responsible, respectful, environmentally friendly and equitable manner,” says LHC Chairperson Daniel Inkersell in a letter delivered to Ladysmith municipal hall Oct. 15.

“Members of the group have had the benefits of safe moorage within this Lot 651 for the past 25 years. The group wishes to express a common ground and understanding of the issues at hand and the interest in addressing and correcting these problems.”

It isn’t clear what the municipality’s next move will be if boat owners in Dogpatch do not obey the notification. Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone told the Chronicle shortly after the notices were delivered that the liveaboards would have to move on.

“After that we will look at whatever options are open to us,” he said.

Noting that several boats have been sunk in DL 651, including two that burned and sank in what the RCMP consider suspicious circumstances, Stone said, “We had some dangerous incidents down there, and we cannot do nothing.”

Of major concern is the Viki Lyne II, a derelict fishing trawler that has 13,000 litres of heavy oil on board and has been cited a serious environmental risk and in immanent danger of sinking by the Canadian Coast Guard.

The LHC says Dogpatch residents have a greater interest than anyone else in maintaining the harbour, and ensuring safety.

Pointing out that Ladysmith Harbour affords shelter from prevailing south-east winds, which can whip up the Strait of Georgia at 200 km per hour in winter gales, he said safe haven is a matter of life-and-death.

“Without this protection the majority of vessels will surely be presented with extreme hardship, and a high chance of sinking to the bottom of the ocean,” Inkersell said.

“For most members, any change in status of the anchorage necessitating relocation of vessels is not an option and would result in the loss of homes, loss of investment, loss of work, loss of vessel and loss of life.”