Derelict boats, like the Florence Filberg that burned in the Sooke Basin in 2010, have been a concern of municipalities for years. (Sooke News Mirror file)

Sooke councillor hoping for funding to deal with abandoned vessels

Board to write a letter to Transportation Minister Marc Garneau outlining CRD comments, concerns

Sooke Coun. Rick Kasper is applauding a Capital Regional District decision to apply for more than $1 million in federal funding to deal with abandoned and derelict boats throughout the Capital Region.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Kasper, who’s Sooke’s alternate director on the CRD board.

The CRD will apply for two grants under the Abandoned Boats Program.

The grants consist of $50,000 in abandoned boat education and awareness and $1 million for abandoned boat assessment and removal, with the CRD contributing $16,667 and $333,333, respectively.

“Abandoned boats create a significant environmental and safety risk for our region,” said Barb Desjardins, CRD board chair. “The board supports a regional funding application to maximize available federal grants and ensure ongoing leadership to address the issue.”

For years, coastal communities, have battled Ottawa over abandoned vessels and who’s responsible for clean up.

The issue boiled over here 10 years ago when the owners of a tugboat moored the vessel in Sooke harbour and abandoned it. The boat sat in the harbour for more than four years before it was destroyed by a fire.

Sooke faced a $100,000 clean up bill, and it took Ottawa years before the municipality was reimbursed.

“We always seem to come up on the short-end of the stick when it comes down to having a louder voice to Ottawa,” said Kasper. “So, it’s nice to see when we approach this issue in a coordinated way.”

In addition to applying for the grants, CRD directors agreed to write a letter to federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau asking him to consider streamlining the vessel removal process into a simple one-call solution; using B.C. as a vessel licensing program test site; federal research into the materials that may safely be used in hulls, and · strategies for the disposal of vessels which may contain hazardous waste.

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