Sooke backs federal private member’s bill to get rid of derelict vessels

NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith seeks support from coastal communities for Bill-C352

Sooke council is backing a call to support a national strategy on abandoned vessels.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson is sponsoring a private member’s bill that would create a comprehensive coast-wide strategy to “end the run-around and finger pointing by designating the Coast Guard as the agency responsible for directing the removal and recycling of abandoned vessels,” Malcolmson said in a letter to the District of Sooke.

“[Bill C352] would also get taxpayers off the hook by fixing vessel registration and creating a fee to help cover the cost of vessel disposal, prevent vessels from becoming hazards by piloting a turn-in program at safe recycling facilities, and create good green jobs by supporting local marine salvage businesses,” she wrote.

Malcolmson said thousands of abandoned vessels are polluting Canada’s oceans and leaking oil into waterways, jeopardizing valuable aquaculture and commercial fishing jobs, threatening the tourism industry and taking a huge toll on coastal communities.

“For too long, jurisdictional gaps have left coastal communities with nowhere to turn when they need help cleaning up abandoned vessels,” she said.

“It’s time for federal action on these vessels.”

The Liberal government introduced the $6.85-million Abandoned Boats Program in June, but Malcolmson and other critics said it doesn’t come close to covering the potential costs of removing abandoned and neglected vessels along Canadian coasts.

At the time, Malcolmson said not only was the funding for the program totally inadequate, it also lacks any measures to improve vessel registration, build a vessel turn-in program, get taxpayers off the hook for clean-ups or support local marine salvage businesses.

“After decades of federal and provincial neglect, $1 million a year for removals is a welcome small first step, but falls far short of what’s needed to address this growing problem on all three coasts,” she said in the letter to communities.

“I built my legislation based on years of advice from coastal communities. Your endorsement as a marine ally will demonstrate powerful solidarity when the debate on abandoned vessels begins in the House of Commons this fall.”

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