Ladysmith has submitted a funding request to the federal government in the hopes of receiving money to remove nine abandoned or severely damaged boats that are posing a hazard in the harbour.
Town staff went out recently and determined which boats were abandoned or in bad shape and prioritized them for the first wave of funding.
“We knew that there was very little funding available and that if we wanted to be successful in gaining the funding to remove them that we had to prioritize and move through the list,” said Mayor Aaron Stone.
The application deadline for the new Transport Canada program was on Oct. 30.
“We took the nine boats that were the most obvious and egregious and put them into our application,” Stone added.
A total of $5.6 million over five years has been set aside for the program which many locally are calling a drop in the bucket after the Viki Lyne II cost taxpayers $1.2 million to remove from the harbour in October 2016.
In announcing the program last May, Ottawa committed to paying 100 per cent of eligible project costs for boat assessment projects, and up to 75 per cent for boat removal and disposal projects.
As part of the funding proposal Ladysmith has also issued a public notice that it intends to take possession and remove vessels under Section 20 of the federal Navigation Protection Act if they are not moved to an authorized area.
“If any vessel or thing is wrecked, sunk, partially sunk, lying ashore, grounded or abandoned in any navigable water — other than in any minor water — that is listed in the schedule, the Minister may, under the restrictions that he or she considers appropriate, authorize any person to take possession of and remove the vessel, part of the vessel or thing for that person’s own benefit..,” reads a section of the Act.
The nine boats on the list put together by the town, include:
– 8.5m x 2.9m Pleasure Craft – white – Abandoned and wrecked at Slack Point.
– Partial vessel roof – white and black. 5.3m x 2.3m at Slack Point.
– Pleasure craft – possibly white but obscured by heavy marine growth, 7.5m x 2.8m at Slack Point.
– Burnt deck – 4m vicinity of Small Craft Harbour dock.
– Pleasure craft – burnt – original colour appears white; 22m x 4.6m, inboard, partially visible.
– Pleasure craft – red and blue, 10 x 3.0m.
– Blue hull, vicinity of Small Craft Harbour dock.
– Burnt Hull – vicinity of Small Craft Harbour dock.
– Bulwarks – 3m, vicinity of Small Craft Harbour dock.
Senior officials with both the Cowichan Valley Regional District and Municipality of North Cowichan both confirmed to the Chronicle that they were not aware of applications submitted on behalf of either government for the program.
Ladysmith Maritime Society executive director Rod Smith said beyond the $5.6 million set aside by Ottawa, he’s focused on a broader program to address the issue faced by “communities up and down the coast.”
“We’ll tear through the current funding pretty quick and the only hope is a good federal program,” he said.
The estimated cost of removing the 90 foot Anapaya out of the Ladysmith Harbour or how funds are allocated in cases where derelict boats are posing an immediate environmental threat is still no clear.
The boat was also listed on Transport Canada’s ‘Vessel of Concern’ list put together back in 2014, which is separate from the Abandoned Boats Program. It sank on Oct. 21 and Saltair Marine spearheaded the removal.
Last Monday, the federal government introduced legislation on abandoned vessels. MP Sheila Malcolmson’s Bill C-352 that proposes a national strategy on the same issue is set to be debated in the House of Commons on Dec. 5.
“There’s an uneven resource let alone authority framework so we can’t just leave it to each community do it on their own,” said Sheila Malcolmson. “We can’t let the feds download it to coastal communities and that’s why we’re calling for that comprehensive coast-wide solution that would cover the whole country.”