Brian Thacker, owner of Pacific Industrial & Marine in Cowichan Bay, stands in front of two unmanned boats that crews from PIM had to rescue from the bay after they became unmoored during the wind and rain storm on Jan. 3. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Cowichan Bay company making waves over derelict boat problem

Pacific Industrial Marine rescues two after last storm

Workers from Cowichan Bay’s Pacific Industrial & Marine were on the water rescuing another two empty boats during the latest wind and rain storm on Jan. 3.

Brian Thacker, who owns the company that specializes in all aspects of marine and bridge construction, said his crews have rescued approximately 20 such vessels from Cowichan Bay over the last two years.

“It seems I have to send out guys all the time after storms come through,” he said. “It’s really getting to be an issue for us. We have called the Coast Guard, but have been told that they only deal with ‘life and limb’ cases where people’s lives or safety is at risk. So we end up dealing with many of these boats and nobody covers our costs.”

Thacker said there are no penalties in place to hold boat owners accountable for their vessels.

“Anybody can put any kind of vessel out there and just walk away,” he said. “I’d like to see the Cowichan Valley Regional District have some way to regulate how boats are anchored in Cowichan Bay. Maybe a controlled anchorage can be placed here where boats would be properly inspected and looked after.”

But Lori Iannidinardo, the director for Cowichan Bay in the CVRD, said the district has no authority to deal with the problem.

She said issues in the bay are the federal government’s jurisdiction.

“(Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP) Sheila Malcolmson and (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP) Alistair MacGregor know our dilemma with derelict and abandoned boats here and are working hard to try to do something about it,” Iannidinardo said.

“But while the east coast seems to get money to deal with derelict vessels, the west coast is largely ignored. If the federal government is serious about this issue, they will put more money towards it.”

A statement from Canadian Coast Guard on the issue acknowledges that abandoned vessels are a concern, and the federal government is working on new legislation to address abandoned or hazardous vessels and wrecks in Canadian waters.

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN OFFICIALS CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC OVER NEW DERELICT VESSEL ACT

The Coast Guard statement said boat owners are responsible for securing their vessels and reminds them to check their lines and regularly check the weather forecast for conditions that may affect their boats.

“In addition, the Coast Guard is working with owners and others to secure vessels and structures that pose a threat to the environment, such as leaking hydrocarbons,” the statement said. “This work is being carried out on a priority basis.”

Last month, the federal government announced that approximately $400,000 from its new $6.85-million Abandoned Boat Program, announced last year, had been earmarked to remove 17 derelict boats in the Saltspring Island area.

RELATED STORY: NEW DERELICT VESSEL PLAN NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR MANY

Last March, the government also announced that $1.3 million from the program was being earmarked to remove derelict boats from areas in B.C. and Newfoundland and Labrador, including funding to remove seven vessels from Ladysmith Harbour.

But, to date, none of the funding from the program has been used to remove derelict or abandoned vessels in Cowichan Bay.

“Abandoned and wrecked boats pollute the marine environment and negatively affect tourism, fisheries, local infrastructure and navigation,” Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said in an interview last month.

“They are a source of frustration for many shoreline communities. Some vessel owners see abandonment as a low-cost, low-risk option. This has to stop.”

Garneau acknowledged that the federal government is expected to soon table its proposed Bill C-64, the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, that would make abandoning a vessel illegal, with financial and other consequences for their owners.

Alistair MacGregor, the NDP MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment, but he said last June when the Abandoned Boat Program was first announced that the program’s funding was inadequate.

“Does the government realistically believe that just $6.85 million is enough funding for the program to cover the longest coastline in the world?” he asked at the time.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Cowichan Provincial Park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

Mid-Island tracking toward driest June on record

Predictions for rain this week could bring temporary relief

Overpass, barrier, more parking considered for Cathedral Grove

Provincial government proceeding ‘with caution’

‘Danger Cat’ in medically-induced coma after serious dirt bike incident

GoFundMe campaign raised more than $3,000 for Campbell River man by Monday afternoon

Tube business concerns puncture Cowichan ad campaign

Company feared picture of dry Cowichan River would dissuade customers

VIDEO: Tributes flow on 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death

Jackson received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. He died at age 50

40 cats, kittens surrendered in apparent animal hoarding at Vancouver home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Pedestrian struck by vehicle in Stz’uminus dies from injuries

A male pedestrian was struck in the early morning of June 25

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Victoria wants to reduce sexual violence in downtown clubs and bars

A motion coming to council this week asks for more action from liquor establishments

International migration drives population rise in B.C.

No joke, provincial population topped 5 million by April 1

Fire in abandoned Campbell River house deemed suspicious, RCMP say

Recent reports of squatters coming and going from the home

Port Alberni resident assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Downtown Victoria sees 10-fold increase in condo units since 2016

A report by the Downtown Victoria Business Association details ongoing construction trends

Most Read