Celebrants at the Ladysmith Maritime Festival had something extra to cheer about over the May 29th weekend with news that the Viki Lyne II will be removed from Ladysmith Harbour sometime this summer.
“I am thankful our community’s voice was finally heard, so the federal government will remove this imminent threat to Ladysmith Harbour once and for all,” said Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson in a Thursday, May 27 release.
“The next step is a comprehensive coast-wide abandoned vessel solution so we can move beyond these boat-by-boat emergency measures.”
Malcolmson handed Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Hunter Tootoo a letter May 17 expressing “the urgent concerns of Stz’uminus First Nation, the Town of Ladysmith and the community about the environmental and economic risks posed by the Viki Lyne II.”
The Viki Lyne was towed into Ladysmith Harbour by the Canadian Coast Guard in 2012. A Coast Guard survey of the vessel later determined the boat was at imminent risk of sinking and posed a serious environmental threat.
As a precautionary measure 20,000 litres of fuel and solvents were pumped off the boat, but 13,000 litres remained, posing a serious risk to the shellfish industry, tourism and recreation in Ladysmith Harbour.
Both the Chief of the Stz’uminus First Nation John Elliott and Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone expressed relief that the Viki Lyne II will be removed.
“Stz’uminus First Nation has built a relationship with the Town of Ladysmith and all levels of government to clean up this harbour,” Elliott said. “We thank our partners for the work they have done and will do to prevent an environmental disaster here.”
Said Stone: ““The removal of the Viki Lyne II is a very positive first step in resolving the challenges derelict vessels present to coastal communities across Canada.
“We are thankful to so many for their efforts on this file, in particular Sheila Malcolmson and her predecessor Jean Crowder. This action proves how effective we can be when we work together across party lines, with all levels of government and at the community level.”
Legislation proposed by Malcolmson to seek a comprehensive solution to derelict and abandoned vessels in Canadian waters will be debated in Parliament next year.
“We all know Canada needs a governance framework and funding for the assessment and disposal of abandoned and end-of-life vessels,” Malcolmson’s May 17 letter to TooToo stated. “It can take time to get it right and we want to work with you to get it right.”
In the meantime, she added, action has to be taken on the most urgent cases of abandoned and derelict vessel, and the Viki Lyne II and Ladysmith Harbour need to be given high priority.
Ladysmith has the highest concentration of abandoned vessels in the country, Malcolmson pointed out. “The alarm bells have been ringing for four years, and another tourism, boating and fishing season is starting with the looming presence of the sinking Viki Lyne II hanging over this special place.”