Many of you have asked for an update on my private member’s Bill C-231, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (derelict vessels and wrecks).
I anticipate that my bill will come up for its first hour of debate in this upcoming session of Parliament, and the second hour of debate and vote may happen in the new year.
While I am waiting for the chance to raise the issue of derelict vessels with my fellow parliamentarians, I have had to write to the minister of transport to draw her attention to some other instances of dangerous vessels. An edited version of the letter follows:
Dear Minister Raitt:
On July 15, 2014 I was informed that a vessel named the Trojan had been drifting in Maple Bay since May of this year. It is my understanding that while the vessel has a concrete mooring block hanging over its side, the chain is insufficient allowing the vessel to lift the block and drift on a rising tide.
My office immediately contacted your office to notify department officials of the situation. On July 24, 2014 my office received the following response:
“I can confirm that the department is aware of this and is monitoring the situation. Should the Trojan break free and become an obstruction to navigation, steps may need to be taken to secure and possibly remove the vessel.”
Unfortunately, this response is insufficient. On July 29, 2014 my office was notified that the Trojan had drifted further to Arbutus Point and that there is a concern it will be taken into the swift waters of Sansum Narrows by a current.
Derelict and abandoned vessels are a major concern in coastal communities and my riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan is no exception. Some examples include:
Ladysmith: On July 22, 2014 my office was informed of a vessel called the Aberdeen that poses an environmental concern to the Ladysmith Harbour. While the fuel may be pumped from the vessel, there is currently no plan in place to remove the derelict vessel from the harbour.
Chemainus: Five derelict barges were left to sink in the Chemainus harbour. While they did not pose a navigational hazard, they were of concern to residents and visitors to the area.
Cowichan Bay: On May 9, 2014 the SS Beaver, which had been abandoned in the bay, was left to sink. Pollution from the ship leaked in the bay causing concern for the sensitive eco-system. The MV Dominion II was another vessel that afflicted Cowichan Bay, causing damage to private property and raising many navigational and environmental concerns.
These are just a few examples of derelict and abandoned vessels that have caused navigation and environmental concerns because there is no mandate to deal with these vessels before they become a hazard.
Jean Crowder is the MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan.