One of two sailboats that broke loose from their moorings in Tseyhum Harbour during the recent storm and washed ashore near the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club. (Steven Heywood/News Staff)

Storm leaves sailboats beached in North Saanich

Jurisdictional mayhem often a concern

A pair of sailboats have grounded upon a North Saanich beach in the wake of the weekend’s stormy weather.

The vessels — of similar size but in very different states of repair — washed up in front of the clubhouse at the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club on Sunday, after breaking loose from their tethers in Tseyhum Harbour.

The area is where many boats end up after they’ve come loose from their moorings in the Harbour and it’s not the first time this early in the year that a vessel has ended up there, or at the nearby Nymph Point Park. Earlier this month, strong winds and waves forced another sailboat into the rocks at the park. The boat’s owner was able to get it removed.

The latest vessels have not broken apart on the beach, a saving grace, says Ian Bruce, executive director of conservation and environmental education group Peninsula Streams. There is, however, garbage washed up there and the boats themselves can have a detrimental effect upon the beach.

For Bruce, this sort of thing happens far too often and he’s hoping Sidney and North Saanich can work together on a program much like what Central Saanich is doing in Brentwood Bay. The District is extending its jurisdiction over mooring in the Bay’s navigable waters. Essentially, Central Saanich taking over enforcement of derelict vessels in the area from the provincial and federal governments, as they were concerned nothing was being done.

The issue comes to a point when the question of who pays for derelict boat removal or mooring buoy replacement is raised.

“This issue is not getting any better,” Bruce said of conditions in Tseyhum Harbour.

Boats breaking away from their moorings and getting blown ashore also threaten the area’s archaeological sites, such as shell middens along the coastline of the Saanich Peninsula.

Bruce said he hopes that because the Harbour is within two municipal jurisdictions, North Saanich and Sidney can work from Central Saanich’s example.

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