A diver lowers himself in to the water where a derelict boat has sunk as a crew works to raise the boat to the surface next to the Selkirk Trestle.

A diver lowers himself in to the water where a derelict boat has sunk as a crew works to raise the boat to the surface next to the Selkirk Trestle.

Sunken boat removed from Gorge Waterway, but several still remain

Three days into the new year, Shellie Gudgeon hopped on a boat on a sunny afternoon with a handful of people to tour the Gorge Waterway.

Three days into the new year, Shellie Gudgeon hopped on a boat on a sunny afternoon with a handful of people to tour the Gorge Waterway, cataloguing illegally moored boats.

The small group counted 24 in total. At least three were sunken and four had people living on them.

The majority of the boats were in decent condition, noted Gudgeon, but some were a downright eyesore, leaking oil and fuel into the water. One boat had 10 to 15 feet of debris piled onto every inch possible.

“Boating is a privilege, it’s not a right and I think that’s important to recognize,” said Gudgeon, a former councillor with the City of Victoria.

“If we don’t follow the regulations of our community and the civil society, this could become a very dangerous situation.”

A number of derelict boats and floating vessels have been permanently anchored off the Selkirk Trestle near Banfield Park for a number of years, sparking complaints about leaking sewage, oil, fuel, noise and garbage from frustrated area residents like Gudgeon.

In an effort to address the issue, city council passed a bylaw in October 2014 that prohibits overnight anchoring, but the portion of water that was experiencing all the problems is owned by the province.

In order to implement the bylaw, the city applied for a license of occupation from the province so it could occupy the land — a license that took a year to receive.

Even though it now has that license in hand, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the city has to check if anything has happened during the last year that could change the bylaw and their ability to enforce it.

“We are doing our due diligence to make sure that we have a bylaw that doesn’t violate any new laws or court decisions that would have commenced now in the year between passing our bylaw and being able to enforce it,” said Helps, who’s also feeling frustrated by how long the process has taken.

“There is no timeline, but I can assure you and the public this is a very active file. We hope to be able to move ahead soon but we also don’t want to break the law.”

Frustrated citizens have accused the city of dragging its heels when it comes to removing the boats. Helps said she understands that’s what it may look like from the public’s point of view, but the city was not anticipating it would take a year to receive the license from the province.

The responsibility to clean up the gorge also rests with the Coast Guard, she noted, with whom the city’s fire chief has been working with to clean up some of the oil in the water. One of the sunken boats was removed on Friday and took an entire day.

In the meantime, some residents are taking matters into their own hands. As a gift to the city, the president of Ralmax Properties offered to remove derelict boats from the waterway for free, but Helps said the matter is complicated.

The Veins of Life Watershed Authority (VOLWS) is also getting involved. The community-based environmental organization began in 1994 as a father-and-son cleanup effort on the Gorge Waterway. The debris removal campaign quickly gained momentum with hundreds of volunteers donating their time to make the water clean again.

Since some property owners moor their boats in the Gorge because it’s cheaper than a marina, the organization is working with boat owners to find a solution

“We have dealt with them in the past by raising the money necessary and paying moorage at a marine for up to a year,” wrote VOLWS in a Facebook post that urges residents to help people living on boats that have nowhere to go.

“If their vessel boat needs maintenance to bring it up to a standard where they can get into a marina let’s help them fix and pay for the repairs. We have even found better boats in the past and just donated. Find them moorage and offer to pay up to one year to help.

Several photos of the boats have been posted on the page to find out who they belong to so they can be moved or disposed. The organization is also calling for volunteers to help with the process.

 

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

Just Posted

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read