Derelict boat bill dies in House of Commons

MP John Duncan and all but one Conservative MP voted against the bill; MP James Lunney did not cast a vote

A private members bill to deal with derelict vessels in Canada drowned at second reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Bill C-638 was put forward by Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder earlier this year. It would have made the Canadian Coast Guard the sole receiver of wrecks, taking on full responsibility for aging, abandoned boats in the country.

Crowder called the result “disappointing.”

“This bill received strong support from British Columbians… Conservatives ignored that support and voted down a piece of legislation that would protect British Columbia’s coast from abandoned derelict vessels which are a hazard to safety and the environment,” she said in a statement after the vote.

In March, regional district officials, including both Parksville and Qualicum Beach mayors, pledged their support to Crowder’s bill by sending a letter to Ottawa.

The issue hits close to home as Parksville Qualicum Beach is one of many coastal communities plagued with derelict vessels. In Deep Bay alone, at least 15 abandoned boats were recorded last year and RDN chair Joe Stanhope said it’s a problem that’s not going away.

“It’s a big thing,” said Stanhope. “This keeps coming up all over coastal communities and we had a recent situation in Deep Bay once again — it was a derelict vessel and there was concern it could pollute the shellfish industry.” He noted a substantial amount of the province’s shellfish industry is rooted in Deep Bay.

“To me it’s a big issue and it’s not going to go away,” said Stanhope.

“We have to protect our water system…We’ll keep pushing it, certainly from the AVICC level I’ll put it on the agenda.”

Executive director for the Georgia Strait Alliance Christianne Wilhelmson echoed Crowder and Stanhope’s disappointment.

“Derelict and abandoned vessels in our coastal waters are a safety hazard, visual eyesore, and release fuel and other toxins into the marine environment, putting marine life and habitat at risk,” she said.

According to Wilhelmson, the biggest challenge involved in mitigating the impacts of derelict and abandoned vessels is the “jurisdictional quagmire” that surrounds them.

Derelict vessels fall within the jurisdiction of both the provincial and federal governments and in many cases local governments have been tasked with dealing with them.

Earlier this year, Conservative John Duncan, MP for Vancouver Island North and government whip who is running in the upcoming election for the Courtenay-Alberni riding, told The NEWS he wasn’t sold on Crowder’s bill.

Duncan said he favoured an American-style system that would see a user group set up some type of fund that people contribute to specifically for the purpose of taking care of derelict vessels. He said contributors would be people “with a vested interest in derelict vessels.”

Duncan, along with Conservative members, except for one MP John Weston (West Vancouver), voted against Bill C-638. Independent MP James Lunney did not cast a vote.

Duncan said Friday Crowder’s bill “was not the way to go… it’s not appropriate for the federal authority to take over all liability when it’s simply not currently their authority — much of it is provincial responsibility. There’s a vacuum in the law right now. We should be addressing it, not going in the direction of Crowder’s bill. The vacuum is when someone abandons a boat there’s no way to create penalty or criminal offense, so that’s our current direction, we are looking at making personal responsibility for abandoning these vessels. We recognize there’s a big problem. We want to address it — that’s our first avenue of approach.”

Just Posted

Parksville Qualicum Beach students the catalyst for #TrustYourself campaign

Social media initiative urges survivors of sexual assault to seek medical care

ORCA continues push for track upgrade at Ballenas

Running association official plans to meet with MLA on Thursday

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases in B.C.

People are asked to throw out or return ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Feds respond to sexual assault investigation at B.C. naval base

Report of Oct. 5 sexual assault on Vancouver Island base taken over by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

EU divorce deal in peril after two UK Cabinet ministers quit

Negotiators from Britain and the European Union have struck a proposed divorce deal that will be presented to politicians on both sides for approval, officials in London and Brussels said Tuesday.

Northern California fire death toll at 56; 130 missing

Many of the missing are elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.

Canfor to buy 70 per cent stake in Swedish Vida Group for $580 million

The privately held company has nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet.

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mixing business and family: Trudeau turns to Singapore ancestors to widen trade

Trudeau’s ancestor, Esther Bernard, born Farquhar (1796-1838) was the daughter of Major-General William Farquhar (1774-1839), the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore.

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Most Read