The first of the derelict vessels in Burgoyne Bay and Fulford Harbour have been removed, thanks to funding from Transport Canada.
Vessels were salvaged as part of an operation spearheaded by the Dead Boats Society. The salvage operation began on Nov. 14 and was estimated to last up to 10 days. However, society leader John Roe said that work would continue until the job was finished.
The project is funded through Transport Canada’s Abandoned Boats Program. In September, Transport Canada announced funding for three recipients in B.C., including Salish Sea Industrial Services in Victoria, the company that has provided the barge and crane for the project. They received $19,685 from the government, according to a press release.
Projects that have received funding for the 2018/2019 fiscal year have not been officially announced by the department, but the Dead Boats Society used a recent period of calm weather to remove some boats before winter.
“It was one of those things that we had to get done. The funds were granted and it was either we do it now or not until next year in May or June,” said Roe. “With the size and type of equipment that we have and the expertise . . . We had a 10-day window and everyone came up from Victoria. We’re hard at it and we’re not stopping until we’re done.”
The crews did not remove all of the vessels around the island. Target vessels were an 85-foot barge in Burgoyne Bay and a 65-foot landing craft in Fulford Harbour. The Fulford job was scheduled to take place on Tuesday.
The Dead Boats Society will continue building an inventory of derelict vessels for future removals. Those looking to get rid of old boats are encouraged to contact the society.
“We’d rather get the boats donated. By the time we do all of the paperwork and everything else, if we find one that’s abandoned and it’s afloat it takes months to get processed,” he said. “If people want to get rid of them, then no questions asked. As long as they can show some sort of title, we’ll take them off their hands and file for the title transfer. We’d rather do it before they sink. “
The Islands Trust is also compiling a list of abandoned vessels for agencies that are applying for funding through the Transport Canada program. The Abandoned Boats program is part of the federal government’s Oceans Protection Plan. The program includes assessment and removal of the vessels, as well as a public education program.
For more on this story, see the November 21, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.