Letter to Hon. Hunter Tootoo

November 9, 2015

BC Nautical Residents Association
309 – 1521 Church Avenue Victoria BC V8P 5T7
www.bcnr.org II feedback@bcnr.org

Hon. Hunter Tootoo
Minister, Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario

Re: Derelict and Abandoned Vessels; Protection of the Rights of Liveaboard Boaters

Dear Minister Tootoo:

Congratulations on your appointment to the Fisheries, Oceans, and Canadian Coast Guard portfolio. As Canadians living on boats and floathomes, members of the BC Nautical Residents Association (BCNRA) count themselves among your constituents.

The BC Nautical Residents Association 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.

During the previous parliamentary session, the then-M.P. for Nanaimo, Jean Crowder, introduced a private member’s bill, C638, regarding a process to clean up derelict vessels along Canada’s coastlines. Regrettably, the Conservatives 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 BCNRA believes that 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 Association encourages you as Minister to introduce legislation that will adequately fund the Canadian Coast Guard to deal with derelict and abandoned vessels.

The Association also requests that your Ministry investigate and reverse the trend by harbour authorities to deny moorage at public docks to liveaboard boaters. As Canadian citizens or permanent residents, liveaboards should have as much right to moor at public docks as commercial or recreational vessels have. However, this is not the case. In British Columbia, it seems that only the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority welcomes liveaboards, while the harbour authorities in Sidney, Cowichan Bay, Vancouver, Port Hardy, and Port Alberni, to name just a few, have eliminated liveaboards all together, or grandfathered them in while prohibiting newcomers.

Direction for the prohibition appears to come from the DFO. We refer you to http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/consultation/sch-ppb/docs/min-pv/2014-10-29-eng.pdf, page 4, item 6, which states it is the Small Craft Harbours, Pacific Regional Harbour Authority’s policy that the SCH ‘…has and continues to discourage liveaboards [my italics]…’

This policy is discriminatory. The BC Nautical Residents Association would like to see the Liberal Government take a humane, inclusive, and proactive approach to protecting the right of Canadians to live aboard their vessels at public docks as well as private marinas.

Thank you for your consideration of these two issues, Minister Tootoo. We look forward to receiving your views on funding the Canadian Coast Guard to remove derelict and abandoned vessels where necessary, and to protecting the rights of Canadians who choose to live as nautical residents.

Yours sincerely,

Donna Sassaman
On behalf of the Board of Directors BC Nautical Residents Association feedback@bcnr.org

c.c. Conservative Fisheries Critic
Fin Donnelly, NDP Fisheries Critic
Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party
Directors, BC Nautical Residents Association

3 thoughts on “Letter to Hon. Hunter Tootoo

  1. Hi,

    I love your letter, great points, and great ideas…, the only thing that concerns me is the possibility of the loss of the already decimated old wood classics that ply these waters. there is such a rich heritage and history of wooden boats on this coast, and they, for many reasons seem to be disappearing very quickly here in BC, opposed to in the US, where there are still wooden boat fishing fleets still plying the waters in immaculate condition. mostly probably because of Transport Canadas hard stance and regulations I imagine. Still your plank statement of “derelict Boats” is somewhat concerning to me. Other than that very nice letter, I look forward to hearing the result, especially about live aboard status in our Marinas.

    Thank you

    Casey Haynes

  2. I think the BC Supreme Court ruling that the right to pitch a tent in a park is exercising ones charter right to “life liberty and security of the person” is just as applicable to those living on boats, especially when it is the only alternative to homelessness, and should also me mentioned as often as possible , when speaking of living aboard. I think we should also prepare a charter challenge on that basis.

  3. A proposal has been made in the House of Commons to give the Coast Guard dictatorial powers to abritrarily decide which boats are derelicts, with no safe guards against abuse.
    Our Coast Guard flatly refused to become cops, when the govt asked them to, and threatened strike action, if forced to.This looks like a back door attempt to make them cops ( and , in the process, a huge number of homeless enemies, with nothing left to loose.)
    Is that the kind of Canada we want?

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