Residents and those who seek to protect the coastline of this community watch every fall and winter as boats wash up on the shore, driven by heavy tides and winds that pull their anchors out of the sea bed.
They’re not alone, says Eric Dahli, chair of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association. That’s why, with storm season fast approaching, he and community representatives from Brentwood Bay and Tsehum Harbour in Sidney are taking a step toward what they hope will be a long-term fix for the derelict vessel issue around the region.
On Oct. 21 the group will make a presentation to the Capital Regional District’s planning, transportation and protective services committee, outlining their recommendations.
Forcing boat owners to have a “licence of occupation” to moor vessel offshore, and having regulatory backup from the CRD, is the goal, Dahli says.
“What that does is puts the responsibility of the boat in the bay squarely on the owner of said vessel,” he adds.
Other recommendations call for owners to register their boats, to purchase liability insurance and to ensure the vessel’s sewage pumpout facilities and fuel containers are safe and secure.
“Right now someone can pick up a boat pretty cheaply, and at any point can just walk away from it,” Dahli says.
A number of communities within the CRD find themselves dealing with derelict boats in the winter, he says, and municipalities can spend a lot of time and money on the matter. Cadboro Bay’s beach is split between Saanich and Oak Bay and Saanich and the residents’ association regularly deals with both, Dahli says.
“Not that we mind dealing with (Oak Bay and Saanich), but if there were a parent body it would be a lot easier,” he says, referring to the CRD.
From a jurisdictional standpoint, the seabed is the province’s responsibility, activities on the surface are under the purview of the Coast Guard and the water in between is a Fisheries and Oceans Canada responsibility. When it comes to stray boats, local organizations can find themselves dealing with any or all three.
“Our long-term goal in working with the CRD is to stop the boats from coming ashore,” Dahli says. “We have instituted a plan where we have interested neighbours who, if something happens, they are all armed with the Coast Guard’s number, and depending on whose side of the bay it’s on – Saanich or Oak Bay – they are alerted.”
Having the CRD partner with local communities on this issue may not happen in time for storm season this year, he admits, but it’s important to get the matter in front of local politicians, most of whom are already very aware of the problem.