The federal government has announced funding and partnerships to remove dozens of derelict boats from B.C.’s shores.
Transport Canada announced on Tuesday, Feb. 16, that it will spend $1.7 million on 95 boat assessment and boat removal projects in B.C., Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Thirty-seven of the 51 derelict vessel removals will be done in B.C., as well as 43 of the 44 abandoned boat assessments.
“These abandoned vessels cause all kinds of environmental and ecological hazards to the communities around them, to the environment around them and it is really important that we are doing this work,” said Omar Alghabra, federal minister of transport, speaking to Black Press.
His ministry announced that it would be paying 100 per cent of assessment and removal costs on abandoned vessels, up from 75 per cent in previous years, in consideration of economic impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alghabra, who has been minister of transport for just five weeks, said colleagues have advised him that the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act is working “great,” but have at the same time reminded him “that it’s important to continue to build on it.”
The ministry says its abandoned boats program has led to 109 assessments and 112 boat removals.
“I believe there are lessons being learned from every case and every assessment and we take these lessons and certainly benefit from them in the following years,” Alghabra said.
The partnerships announced this week – with Coastal Restoration Society, Salish Sea Industrial Services, Heiltsuk Horizon Maritime Services and We are the Change for Humanity – involve assessment of 18 boats in Barkley Sound, 12 in Nootka Sound, eight in the Bella Bella area, three in Bamfield Harbour and two in Alert Bay and removal of 24 boars in Victoria, 11 in Tofino and two in Alert Bay.
The minister said contracts and arrangements vary but the federal government has “clear expectations” about the work to be done and timelines.
“We are confident that these partners have the abilities and the know-how to get the job done,” he said.