Volunteers representing a coalition of groups recently cleaned up the interior and exterior of derelict boats stranded on the Oak Bay side of Cadboro Bay. File photo

Saanich councillor shores up support for beach cleanup

Coun. Fred Haynes has filed a notice of motion in support of a group seeking to rid local beaches of derelict boats.

The motion to be debated at council’s next meeting July 10 asks staff to “write a letter of support to the Dead Boat Society in their application to receive federal funds for boat removal on South Vancouver Island beaches.”

Haynes said the idea behind the motion is to help build a coalition as the group seeks financial support from the federal government.

The Dead Boat Society, which includes the Community Association of Oak Bay, Cadboro Bay Residents Association, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Veins of Life Watershed Society, Oak Bay, Saanich, C-Tow and Ralmax, plans to apply for newly announced funding to finish cleaning the shores of Cadboro Bay, where more than a dozen derelict boats of various types litter the Oak Bay side of the beach.

Eric Dahli of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association applauded Haynes’ decision. But he also noted that the group is setting up an independent fundraising mechanism to help clean up Cadboro Bay in the summer before the onset of winter storms, which would threaten to undue cleanup efforts from earlier this spring. Dahli said the group is still setting up its fundraising portal, but “cautiously optimistic” about meeting its goal of $20,000.

One reason to fundraise independently concerns the application deadlines for the various pots of federal funding, he said. They are not due until the fall, he said.

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau announced in May the launch of a national, five-year $6.85 million Abandoned Boats Program led by Transport Canada to help remove existing smaller abandoned boats, educate boat owners about their responsibilities, and support research into improving recycling options for boats.

“Abandoned boats in Canada can pollute the marine environment, harm local businesses such as tourism and fisheries, damage infrastructure, interfere with navigation, and pose health and safety risks to Canadians. Through the Oceans Protection Plan, our new Abandoned Boats Program will not only remove the highest priority small boats, but also help owners better understand how they can better protect our coasts and waterways,” Garneau said during the announcement.

The program itself consists out of two sub-components: assessment and removals (A&R) supporting the permanent removal and disposal of abandoned or wrecked small boats and the education, awareness and research (EA&R) component funding public education aimed at raising awareness about owner responsibility.

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen praised the program at the time of its announcement, adding the group seems to fit into the eligibility criteria.

For 2017-18 funding, the A&R application deadline is Oct. 30 and EA&R projects application deadline is Sept. 30.

Efforts to remove more than a dozen boats from the Oak Bay side of Cadboro Beach stalled in May because of funding issues that caused some tension between the organizers of the cleanup and the Capital Regional District, tension which has since been resolved.