Sinking in Deep Bay a reminder

Overnight Thursday, March 31, a 70-foot wooden tugboat named the Lorna Foss sank, taking a 30 foot sailboat down with it.

The sinking of two derelict vessels in Deep Bay north of Nanaimo is a timely reminder, which delegates to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention this coming weekend should pay close attention to.

Overnight Thursday, March 31, a 70-foot wooden tugboat named the Lorna Foss sank, taking a 30 foot sailboat down with it. The Foss was one in a collection of nine other derelict vessels rafted together in Deep Bay.

Sound familiar? We have our own collection of derelict vessels here in Ladysmith, and for years there have been calls to all levels of government to do something to remedy the situation. We’ve had sinkings. We have the potential for another disastrous sinking in the form of the Viki Lyne II, which poses a serious threat to the environment, marine based industries and tourism in our area.

And so far nothing has been done.

To her credit NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith Sheila Malcolmson has resurrected a private members bill, first floated by her predecessor Jean Crowder. It would at least vest responsibility for derelict vessels with the Canadian Coast Guard, rather than having it shuffled around between separate ministries and levels of government.

But  Malcolmson concedes herself that’s not enough. A program for proactively removing and disposing of derelict vessels is needed, and many eyes have turned toward Washington State, where such a program has been put in place, as a model to build on.

The municipality of Saanich has put forward a resolution calling for the creation of an abandoned and derelict vessels program, and a vessel end of life disposal program.

Surely it’s time to look at a similar program for Canada, and since our ‘senior’ levels of government seem unable to form any kind of resolve on the issue, it’s up to our local politicians to get a hand on the helm. A firm show of support for a resolution calling for action would send a timely signal.