Dead Boats Society wants your derelicts

Signing abandoned boats over makes clean-up process easier

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With the controversial Ganges Harbour wreck Castle Finn now signed over to authorities for proper disposal, the founder of the nonprofit Dead Boats Disposal Society is urging other derelict boat owners to do the same.

Boat owners around the Gulf Islands have the chance to surrender their vessels to the Dead Boats Disposal Society for removal as part of the federal Abandoned Boats Program.

John Roe and disposal society partners have removed 17 boats from waters around Salt Spring so far and were out hunting for more last week to take advantage of the program.

“We’ve removed some and the Coast Guard has removed some, but we know there’s a few more out there. The thing is, getting people to give up their boats is far easier than us going out and going through the paperwork for a seizure notice. It’s very time consuming,” Roe said.

Roe asks owners of boats that are in danger of sinking to sign their vessels over to the society for removal. Roe said they prefer to have multiple vessels to remove at the same time, which is more cost effective than removing one at a time.

“We’ll take it, no questions asked. The only thing we ask is that you keep it afloat until we can remove it,” Roe said. “Like everything else we want to get more listed on the [Abandoned Boats] Program. There’s only two more years left, and we’re going to take advantage of it.”

Bill C-64, or the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, received royal assent in February 2019, and it authorizes Transport Canada to hold owners of abandoned vessels accountable, as well as impose fines of up to $50,000 or $5,000 per day depending on the situation. Roe explained that by signing derelicts over to the society, the owners will not have the risk of paying those fines.

Roe has surveyed the Burgoyne Bay area as well as Ganges Harbour. The Castle Finn is one notable vessel that has been turned over to the society, after being stuck on shore near Ganges, and then the scene of multiple fires over the winter.

Vessels removed are tested for contaminants before disposal. Any materials that are contaminated are sent to a facility in Alberta to be incinerated. Regular garbage is sent to the Hartland Landfill on the Saanich Peninsula.

People who see derelict vessels can contact the CRD at infoline@crd.bc.ca or the Dead Boats Disposal Society by calling 250-383-2086.

For more on this story, see the June 12, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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