Rick StiebelThe Chronicle
Local MP Sheila Malcolmson says a resolution passed by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities last week contains some key elements the federal government needs to take a close look at.
Malcolmson, the NDP MP for Ladysmith-Nanaimo, has been urging the government to adopt a regulatory solution that would give the Canadian Coast Guard authority to deal with derelict vessels.
She tabled a private member’s bill in February, Bill C-219, to implement a better solution than the current ship-by-ship, case-by-case scenario.
Malcolmson said this has been a significant issue for her, especially in Ladysmith, dating back to her 12 years in regional politics and her time as chairwoman of the Islands Trust Council.
The Ladysmith Maritime Society has dealt with the problem of abandoned vessels in Ladysmith Harbour for many years and as recently as this month, when the Laurier II was towed in.
“I absolutely support the UBCM’s need for programs to deal with the backlog of recreational vessels at the end of their lifespan,” Malcolson said from Ottawa in a telephone interview with the Chronicle. “I would like to see something like a cash for clunkers program to help alleviate the problem. A lot of boat and marina operators are responsible and want to do the right thing and dispose of old boats, but it’s hard to because of landfill regulations and red tape.”
She would like to work with local and provincial governments to initiate a one-year amnesty, similar to what she says has been successful in Oregon state.
“There are great models we could copy if the government showed leadership,” she added. “Another element I’ve been pushing for a long time is to make more investments in fiberglass recycling. We’re seeing a lot of fiberglass boats that are coming to the end of life and it’s difficult to dispose of them.”
Malcolmson had hoped to deliver the UBCM resolution directly to federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau last week, but he was not available, so she gave it to deputy minister Michael Keenan instead.
She posed a question in the House of Commons on Sept. 29 asking what the government planned to do regarding the UBCM resolution.
“They said they are committed to a solution,” she noted. “I’m going to keep pushing them on this.”