An editorial in the Jan. 2 edition of the Times Colonist calls for the creation of a ‘permanent body comprising municipal, provincial and federal representatives’ to untangle the mess of jurisdictions, rules and regulations governing who’s responsible for monitoring and removing derelict vessels from B.C. harbours.
We couldn’t agree more… providing, of course, such a body is given some kind of mandate to actually do something about the bureaucratic nightmare that allows a vessel like the Viki Lyne II to remain in Ladysmith Harbour, and similar situations to occur in other harbours up and down B.C.’s 26,000 km of coastline – not to mention the thousands of kilometres of coastline elsewhere in the country.
And provided something can be achieved relatively quickly.
The system as it stands validates a level of buck-passing as absurd as it is dangerous, with every level of government saying they can’t make a move without encroaching on the jurisdiction of another, while commonsense is perpetually thwarted, and vessels like the Viki Lyne II, which is an environmental catastrophe just waiting to happen – remain anchored to our future.
Everyone understands that marine law and tradition allow skippers to drop anchor just about anywhere, and that there’s good reasons for that latitude. Mariners have to be able to seek safe haven in a storm; there is also a case for allowing an alternative, seagoing lifestyle, which many liveaboards prefer to the landlubber’s lot.
Those rights can’t be conferred, however, in such a way that they put the rights of coastal communities to safe, productive harbours at risk. Like any other right, they can’t be enshrined without the balancing set of responsibilities that are attached to every right.
Nobody has the right to leave a hazard like the Viki Lyne II in any harbour, or the skeletal remains of a dozen other derelict vessels, and it’s long past time our governments balanced the scales so everyone can feel their rights are being respected.