A derelict boat at Island View Beach Regional Park. (Kevin McLaughlin/Contributed)

Cleanup of derelict vessels in Oak Bay delayed… again

With CRD support in limbo and an onerous federal grant process, Oak Bay is at a difficult impasse.

Plans to quickly rid Cadboro Bay of long-discussed derelict boats and debris has once again struck a proverbial reef.

At least, that’s what the mood felt like at Monday night’s council meeting, just as the dime fell revealing that the federal government’s abandoned boats program isn’t the long-awaited solution Oak Bay council aimed for.

“We had high hopes for the (federal abandoned boats) program, but it may not be all that it’s cracked up to be, from our perspective,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.

The disappointment came from a staff report that began on July 17 this year, meant to show outlining discussions with the Oak Bay Marine Group, Royal Victoria Yacht Club and Dead Boat Society to figure out an immediate clean-up effort of derelict vessels.

What the report revealed instead however, is the district’s position between a rock and a hard place on the issue.

“Staff are not proposing to submit a separate grant application, as outlined in the report, the timelines and the scope of the required work are extensive and well outside of any work plan or our budget,” said Maura Jones, deputy director of corporate services, adding the other alternative is to look back towards the Capital Regional District for help.

“Instead, staff recommends that we continue to participate in the CRD community discussion for regional options to organize a cleanup of Cadboro Bay,” Jones told council, adding there are three hulls and various debris identified in Cadboro Bay that need attention.

But relying on the CRD may not turn out to be so fruitful either, with Coun. Kevin Murdoch pointing out that there was “no guarantee” that any action would be taken.

Coun. Michelle Kirby also expressed frustration over the weak choices available to Oak Bay, despite discussing the issue of derelict boats at length with federal and provincial counterparts at Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities and Union of B.C. Municipalities meetings.

“This kind of process should not be onerous and something that adds a burden to the municipality more so,” she said. “We already have a burden and we have all these challenges now to apply for a grant and do all this research and background work… we waited all these years for finally to get a response from the government and it’s an inadequate response.”

Some wheels are turning. In July, council approved a $4,000 grant from an unallocated grant in aid funds to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club to assist in the continued clean up and removal of derelict vessels located on the beach in Cadboro Bay. In addition to the funds provided, District Parks staff will assist on the actual day of clean up.

A date for the clean-up has not yet been confirmed, however.

The remaining funds will supposedly be provided by the province of up to $12,000.

As for the time being, Oak Bay’s ghost ships are remaining doomed to Davy Jones’ locker – at least until the CRD lends a hand or another, more effective solution is found.

octavian.lacatusu@oakbaynews.com

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