A spokesperson for a local society concerned about derelict boats in Saanich’s Cadboro Bay neighbourhood said he is “very disappointed” that the federal government excluded the area from additional funding.
Eric Dahli of the Dead Boats Society said municipal and provincial officials need to step up their lobbying efforts after the federal government did not include Saanich and Oak Bay for additional funding after adding $6.85 million to its Abandoned Boat Program.
Of those funds, $412,475 is flowing going towards clean-up efforts in British Columbia. Dahli dismissed this figure as inconsequential in light of the needs across British Columbia.
“That is absolutely nothing,” he said. Of those funds, $404,350 will go towards the Indigenous-owned Salish Sea Industrial Services to remove 17 boats in the Salt Spring Island area, while Esquimalt is getting $5,625 for the removal of one boat and $2,500 for the assessment of another.
Dahli said he had not heard of Salish Sea Industrial Services until Friday’s announcement.
Tara Zajec, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich, said groups can continue to apply for funding under the program.
“The application period for assessment and removal projects through the federal government’s Abandoned Boats Program continues to be open,” she said.
Under the program, groups removing boats can receive reimbursement with a maximum of up to $5,000 per boat removal assessment and $50,000 per boat removal and disposal.
“At the beginning of the year, several boats in Cadboro Bay area were identified by the Dead Boats Society and Veins of Life Watershed Society as being derelict,” she said. “The Veins of Life Watershed Society subsequently made a funding application to the [federal] government which we understand is still pending approval.”
Zajac remains in support of increased action through resolutions similar to UBCM and Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ 2017 resolution requesting additional funds for communities dealing with derelict and abandoned boats.
Dahli said in a subsequent interview that this information about the on-going availability of funding pleases him, but also reiterated his early concerns about the size of the federal commitment.
“One quarter of the total fund for the West Coast would be used in Cadboro Bay,” he said.
Cadboro Bay has been the site of various boats washing up on either the Saanich or Oak Bay side over the years. Two boats remain on stranded on the beach — one of either side of the municipal border.