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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Errington Farmers Market to go ahead with planned May opening

Strict safety measures to be put in place

COVID-19: Qualicum school district to start at home learning initiatives April 15

Last week, teachers reached out to families to discuss individual needs

COVID-19: Latest message from Qualicum Beach

Town officials conducted spot inspection on re-opened farmers market

COVID-19: Parksville council moves to Zoom, talks property tax and grants

Money for cancelled events now expected to be returned to the city

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Nanaimo company offering free soil for self-isolators to get into gardening

Milner Group inviting the public to pick up soil at its Biggs Road recycling facility on Saturday

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

COVID-19 PQB business update: looking for takeout food?

Email messages to editor@pqbnews.com

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read