EDITORIAL: Hello task force, you out there?

Thoughts on derelict boats, the homeless situation in Parksville and the embattled Island Corridor Foundation

Thoughts from a busy news week:

• We received phone calls and watched the Facebook world go nuts with misinformation this week when a homeless person set up a tent in Foster Park. This is not going to go well for the city and its residents. The local Homelessness Task Force was created more than five years ago. While it’s easy to point fingers at the city and the province, perhaps it’s time to focus on the task force and what it has or hasn’t done. If there was momentum after a dinner/panel discussion last year, it’s fizzled now into misinformation and inaction. What exactly do you need, task force, and how can we help? The ball has been in this task force’s court for many months now.

• Kudos to the federal government for recognizing the critical nature of the situation in Deep Bay and getting the 100-foot abandoned Silver King towed away, averting a potential environmental disaster that could have put 60 shellfish industry employees out of work. Good work also by MP Gord Johns. Thing is, did federal Fisheries Minister Jordan Tootoo set a precedent with his actions last week? He said the Silver King was towed to a yard to be deconstructed because an environmental response team concluded that the vessel is “not seaworthy and beyond repair.” How many other abandoned/derelict vessels on the Pacific coast could be described in the same manner? If that’s the minister’s standard, he best hire a full-time team to tow boats to yards for at least the next few years. Oh, and we hear Ladysmith residents aren’t exactly tickled pink to have the Silver King now in its harbour, which is home to Timothy’s Oysters and Liberis Seafood.

• They are being sued by the Nanoose First Nation. They are suing Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) director Julian Fell. The RDN has withdrawn its $950,000 commitment. The federal government has yet to release $7.5 million in funding, which is holding up a similar-sized package from the province. There have been many calls for a change in its governance and increased financial transparency, most recently from the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities. And there is still no passenger train service from Victoria to Courtenay.

Still, Island Corridor Foundation co-chair Judith Sayers remains optimistic.

“We certainly have had many barriers put in our way,” she told The NEWS this week. “I think we can overcome them.”

One has to admire Sayers for keeping a brave face.

— Editorial by John Harding

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