Derelict boat fee proposed to pay for cleanup of wrecks

A municipal councillor in Saanich is calling for a fee on boat purchases or registrations to help clean up derelict vessels on the B.C. Coast.

Municipality frustrated by cost of dealing with abandoned boats that have washed up on beach

A large vessel with a concrete hull has been sinking into the beach in Cadboro Bay since it washed up in December. The municipality has decided to pay to remove it. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

A municipal councillor in Saanich is calling for a fee on boat purchases or registrations to help clean up derelict vessels on the B.C. Coast.

The community in Greater Victoria is dealing with several vessels that have washed up on the beach recently at the popular Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay.

Removing and disposing of all of the abandoned boats, including one large vessel that has a concrete hull, could cost up to $50,000, said Coun. Judy Brownoff.

"We need some way for municipalities and local taxpayers not to take the brunt of vehicles that end up on our shore through a storm and become derelict and abandoned," she said.

Brownoff is proposing a senior level of government collect a small levy on boat purchases or registrations that could go into a fund to help municipalities deal with the problem.

A sailboat is among several derelict vessels that have washed up in Cadboro Bay. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

"You buy a computer and there's an eco charge. And so it could be as simple as that with the purchase of a boat," she said.

The fund could also be used to help owners pay to dispose of vessels when they reach the end of their useful life, potentially reducing the number of boats that become derelict, Brownoff said.

Brownoff is basing her proposal on a system already in place in Washington state.

 Andrew Weaver, the Green MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, says it could work — if the the provincial and federal governments are willing to get involved in an issue that has proven to be a jurisdictional tangle in the past.

"Nobody wants to take the lead on these because everyone can point fingers to others and suggest that they take the lead," he said.

Brownoff plans to put her proposal before Saanich council later this month. If it finds support, she hopes the Union of B.C. Municipalities will pick up the lobby effort.

The proposal marks the latest in a series of attempts to find a solution for derelict boats. Abandoned vessels can be found up and down the B.C. Coast.

The remains of a vessel that washed up on the beach in Cadboro Bay. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

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