Letter to the Editor – Re: Anchored Boats in Ladysmith Harbour

November 12, 2015

Ladysmith Chronicle
Box 400, 940 Oyster Bay Drive
Ladysmith, BC V9G 1A3

Re: Anchored Boats in Ladysmith Harbour

Dear Opinion Page Editor:

The BC Nautical Residents Association (BCNRA) was founded in 2010 by a group of liveaboard boaters to encourage living aboard responsibly and to find solutions to issues faced by people who live on the water. The BCNR’s mission statement is to:

  1. Preserve and support the tradition of living aboard one’s vessel;
  2. Promote environmental awareness among liveaboards;
  3. Establish effective communications and resolve issues of concern to liveaboards;
  4. Serve as a voice for liveaboards regarding activities that affect BC waterways.

Several of BCNRA’s members live aboard their boats in ‘Dog Patch’. Some have been there for years. They are citizens: they shop, work, volunteer, and vote in Ladysmith and the environs. Some of Ladysmith’s liveaboards at one point made a conscious decision to live a nautical lifestyle, while others may have fallen into it through any number of life’s challenges. They are like many of Ladysmith’s land-based residents – a mix of family composition, with a range of ages, economic resources, educational backgrounds, interests, political viewpoints, and hobbies. Like most Canadians, they just want to live and let live.

Some shore-side residents object to seeing boats at anchor, stating that they are ‘derelicts’ and/or not paying their fair share. Some of the boats may be unsightly, but if they are floating high on their waterlines and are being monitored by their owners, they are not derelicts. There are houses in our coastal communities that will never make it into Better Homes and Gardens but no one is demanding they be eliminated. Why should boats at anchor be banished? Buildings must conform to maintenance bylaws. Why not boats? Land-based residents must pay for services such as water, garbage, fire, and police protection. Why not set up a system for liveaboards to pay for the services they use?

Liveaboard vessels by definition are not derelicts. Derelict “… generally means vessel or cargo which has been abandoned and deserted at sea by those who were in charge of it without any hope of recovering it.” [BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ Technical Staff Guide on Problem Vessels] The question of liveaboards in Dog Patch should not be conflated with the issue of the Vicki Lynne.

During the last parliamentary session, the then-M.P. for Nanaimo, Jean Crowder, introduced a private member’s bill, C-638, regarding a process to clean up derelict vessels along Canada’s coastlines. Regrettably, the previous government defeated the bill. While the majority of boat owners are responsible maintainers of their vessels, sometimes boats become wrecks or derelicts through accident, neglect, or abandonment. The Coast Guard has the expertise, and should have the adequate resources, to dispose of wrecks and derelicts in an environmentally sustainable way.

Our Association supports the introduction of an annual decal program, similar to that of Washington State. In Washington, an annual decal costs approximately $28US and the proceeds go to marine enhancements, including the removal of derelict and abandoned vessels. A Canadian Coast Guard staff person once told a BCNRA director that if the Coast Guard had $2/boat/year, there would be no problem in removing wrecks.

The BCNRA encourages Canadians to write to Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard (hunter.tootoo@parl.gc.ca), requesting that he introduce legislation to adequately fund the Canadian Coast Guard to deal with derelict and abandoned vessels.

Finally, the BC Nautical Residents Association is encouraged to learn that the municipality has struck a working group, comprising various levels of government, the local First Nations, and stakeholders, including boaters at anchor, to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution to whatever issues have been identified.

Thank you.

Rick Schnurr, Director
Bill Sassaman, Director
BC Nautical Residents Association

Note: the published version of this letter was abbreviated due to word count constraints. It communicates the same message with less detail.

3 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor – Re: Anchored Boats in Ladysmith Harbour

  1. I have heard mooring buoys have been arbitrarily removed by the government, recently .
    One way for boaters to avoid having their mooring buoys removed ,is by pulling the line aboard , and then removing the buoy and stowing it below. Then, without a buoy in sight ,there is no way for them to know if the boat is moored or anchored.It undermines one more excuse for them to harass us,.
    If they bring in an anual decal system for boats ,as in the US, don’t assume the price wont rise dramatically, very quickly.
    That is a hair brained idea, from the “boaters interests “perspective.
    In rural ares ,you would be paying urban based costs, without urban benefits

    • A 2 cent a litre surtax on marine fuel ,earmarked for Coast Guard use, so it couldn’t be raided by governments for other uses, would be far more acceptable ,less confrontational, and and have far fewer legal enforcement costs, than any annual fee. Any annual decal fee would require the building of yet another bureaucratic empire, which would absorb much of the money in bureaucracy and legal costs, intended for more practical use.

  2. Rather belatedly, I would like to respond to Brent Swain’s suggestion regarding a surtax on marine fuels. I think it’s a good suggestion and I have to agree that it would require a lot less bureaucratic infrastructure. My sense is that the BCNRA Board isn’t particularly wed to one approach to funding the Coast Guard. What the Board supports is adequate funding for the Coast Guard by marine users.

    It would be helpful for the Board to hear from other members regarding this issue.

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