City officials are in the process of issuing notices to all boats in the Gorge Waterway as part of a voluntary compliance phase to remove the boats.

City inching closer to remove derelict boats from the Gorge

Bubbling with excitement, nearly 100 middle school students recently hopped into four dragon boats and headed onto the Gorge Waterway.

Bubbling with excitement, nearly 100 middle school students recently hopped into four dragon boats and headed onto the Gorge Waterway for a friendly rowing competition.

It was the first time many of the students had ever been on the water. But as Erik Ages steered one of the boats past a sunken vessel near the Selkirk Trestle, their attention shifted to the 20 or so derelict boats that have been bobbing on the water for several years.

“The kids were asking what are all those boats doing and why are they sunk? It’s a complicated issue you can’t explain to a 10-year-old all that easily, but it should be something we can explain and it should be something that’s not acceptable,” said Ages, general manager of the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club.

“This water is heavily used by recreational users and it should be a safe, clean body of water.”

Ages is among a number of area residents who’ve grown frustrated and impatient with the derelict boats and floating vessels that have been permanently anchored off the Selkirk Trestle near Bamfield Park for several years. The boats have sparked several complaints about leaking sewage, oil, fuel, noise and garbage since they aren’t hooked up to proper services, but the City of Victoria is forging ahead to eventually have the boats removed.

In 2013, Victoria council began floating a plan to deal with the boats, but has run into a number of hurdles since then. Now the city has finally managed to rezone the current Gorge Waterway regulations to allow anchoring for a period of up to 48 hours, but not exceeding 72 total hours in a 30-day period.

City officials are currently in the process of issuing notices to all boats in the area as part of an education and voluntary compliance phase. For those who don’t comply, the city would have to apply for an injunction.

“I’m sure we’ll hear back pretty quickly and see very quickly whether people are moving or not and I anticipate that some people will,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, noting a September target for the boats to be removed is not set in stone.

“We’ve seen something about the injunction process with regards to tent city…Certainly we’ve indicated a very clear path to the public and we’re going to be following that path just as we’ve laid it out.”

According to one area resident, the number of boats anchored in the Gorge has decreased slightly and no more have arrived for the summer months like they usually do. Two boats, however, are still fully submerged in the water.

Like many people who live near and use the waterway on a regular basis, Ages is curious to see how the process will unfold during the next few months. He’s aware how much effort the city has put into changing its bylaws and getting the appropriate licensing from the province, but he wouldn’t be surprised if the boats are still in the water come September.

“The effort to get them out is going to be insurmountable. We’re certainly willing to pitch in and do our part. We need them out of there for the general good of the community and the environment,” said Ages, who runs paddling camps for kids throughout the summer.

“The majority of the people who are around this water every day believe that those boats have caused environmental damage and they’re impacting the general recreational enjoyment of the water for thousands of people…My sense of safety and the ability to run our program will improve when those boats are gone.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Emily Harris (centre) started the in-person Monarch Moms meet-up groups in July, when it was much easier to physical distance in outdoor spaces. Harris started the group as a source of connection for women navigating the ups and downs of having a baby during a pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Victoria new mom group navigates challenges of motherhood in a pandemic

Monarch Moms meet once a week for physically-distanced connection

Saanich Police are investigating a broken window at the Greater Victoria School District office. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Saanich police suspect slingshot used to break window at SD61 office

Police find bearing, or pellet below broken window at school board

The Takaya inspired sculpture currently in Kent Laforme’s outdoor studio. The 25,000-pound piece of Vancouver Island marble could be installed on Cattle Point. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Stone Takaya sculpture could soon ‘howl’ at Cattle Point

Oak Bay inviting public suggestions for 25,000-pound marble sculpture

Joanne Smith has been visiting Goldstream Provincial Park since she moved to Langford two years ago. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Visitors flock to Goldstream Provincial Park for 2020 salmon run

‘I wanted to come here before I move back to Australia,’ says visitor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
FILE – A voting package for the 2018 electoral reform referendum. Vote-by-mail packages for the 2020 provincial election will look similar, according to information provided by Elections BC. (Katya Slepian - Black Press Media)
POLL: Have you voted yet?

As election day quickly approaches, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians have… Continue reading

Jordan Naterer, an electrical engineer from Vancouver, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. (Facebook photo)
Search efforts to resume for missing Manning Park hiker; Trudeau speaks on case

PM says he’ll do what he can to ‘nudge’ efforts to find Jordan Naterer, yet has little leverage locally

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
B.C. records first COVID-19 outbreak at school, six weeks after students return to class

Three cases of the virus have been identified at École de L’Anse-au-sable

Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is seen as she leaves media event during a campaign stop in West Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green leader hopes voters see value in minority government

The Greens received nearly 17 per cent of the popular vote in 2017 yet received just three seats

Local candidates Pam Alexis, Abbotsford-Mission, and Preet Rai, Abbotsford-West, look on as NDP Leader John Horgan main streets in Abbotsford, B.C., Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. NDP takes snap election risk during pandemic in quest for majority government

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the election was unnecessary and irresponsible during the pandemic

Most Read