The woman living on board a floating structure consisting of several boats in violation of a North Saanich order to lift anchors says she plans to leave the water off Lillian Hoffar Park but probably not until the end of May.
“We are trying to move them, but my husband (Stewart Jackson) is in the hospital,” said Diana Junus Thursday morning, a day after the deadline imposed by the District of North Saanich for the couple to vacate the waters.
Speaking from one of the boats, Junus said her husband has been in hospital since February and recovering after having “almost died” of sepsis. She said it is not clear when he would return. (In an interview last year, Jackson revealed that he has been suffering from a number of health issues, having also undergone an amputation of one of his legs).
“We are going to be moving them, but I can’t do it by myself,” said Junus, who expects to leave the waters by the end of May but doesn’t know where she will be going to.
“If I lose this, I’m out of a house. I don’t have anywhere to go.”
Junus estimates she has been living on board for about five years, saying “it’s a bit rough but not bad.”
The presence of the boats has drawn complaints from nearby residents concerned about the loss of views and access to local beaches, as well as family members of Lillian Hoffar, the namesake of the park. The municipality owns the park and holds a foreshore lease for the adjacent waters. Officials have also warned about harmful environmental effects from derelict and abandoned boats. In his interview with the PNR, Jackson challenged the idea that his boat fits into that category, adding that he is not squatting. “It a 41-foot-long boat I live on,” he said. “It’s bigger than some apartments in town.”
Meghan Mason, spokesperson for the District of North Saanich, said that the Dead Boats Society will be cleaning up derelict boats and debris in the waters adjacent to Lillian Hoffar Park in early May (without giving a specific date).
“Now that the April 28 deadline has passed, district staff will be visiting the site to check on the status of the boats, including any that may be occupied,” she said. “If occupied boats still remain, the district will issue proceed with further action relating to the original notice issued on April 6.”
When asked about Junus’ statement that she might not be able to move until the end of May, Mason said the municipality has nothing further to add at this stage. As for Junus, her wish is simple. “I don’t want to end up homeless.”
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