Victoria to clear derelict boats from Gorge Waterway

There are now more than 30 boats moored in the Gorge. People live on board some of the vessels, but others are derelict.

The city is planning time limits on dropping anchor, but it's stopping short of a ban

There are now more than 30 vessels anchored in Victoria's Gorge Waterway. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Victoria plans to rezone an urban waterway to deal with the longstanding problem of boats that permanently drop anchor.

There are now more than 30 boats in the Gorge Waterway. People live on board a few of the vessels, but others are derelict or sinking.

There has long been a push to clear the boats out, but it has taken years for the city to work out the proper jurisdiction.

"I'm pleased that we are moving forward," said Shellie Gudgeon, a former city councillor who lives nearby and has been calling on the city to move more quickly to deal with the issue.

"Once there is 30 [boats] and nobody is doing anything about it, there will be 60."

The city received a License of Occupation in October from the province granting it legal authority over the water. Now it plans to rezone the area and limit anchoring to a period up to 48 consecutive hours, and not more than 72 hours in a month.

The city said it considered a full prohibition on anchoring, but determined that could interfere with federal jurisdiction over navigation and shipping.

The proposal still has to go before Victoria city council next week for approval and will be subject to further public consultation.

Injunctions may be sought

But if the water is rezoned as planned, the city said it will start by asking boat owners to move their vessels. It will seek injunctions to remove any remaining vessels by September.

Gudgeon hopes people with boats in the Gorge will choose to comply.

"I'm hoping they will work this time of year to find the appropriate locations for their boats to go, and that we won't have to have an 'us versus them' come September," she said.

The rezoning may solve the problem for Victoria, but there is concern some of the boats will just move down the waterway into the neighbouring community of Saanich.

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