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Derelict ship Dominion hauled from Cowichan Bay early Saturday

Derelict vessel Dominion has finally been hauled from Cowichan Bay amid local fears her fuel would one day foul the bay. It
Derelict vessel Dominion has finally been hauled from Cowichan Bay amid local fears her fuel would one day foul the bay. It's presumed owners towed Dominion to Mexico for scapping.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland file

The Dominion has finally left Cowichan Bay.

Bay Director Lori Iannidinardo was cautiously happy the fuel-filled, derelict ship — lashed by the Coast Guard to a dock at Western Stevedoring — was hauled out Saturday morning.

It was likely bound for scrapping elsewhere, she said, after years of locals chasing prospective owners, and government departments powerless to order the rusting merchant vessel sold or seized.

"It took an easy five years — it's still very frustrating these things have to take so long," she said.

"I was walking the beach this morning, and the Dominion's definitely gone; people in the village watched it go, and said it was (hauled by) a Mexican tug."

That would fit plans by a prospective American buyer about two years ago. He aimed to buy Dominion, then have her and another vessel towed for scrapping in Mexico.

But eco-conscious Iannidinardo was worried about Dominion's downstream effects.

"I'm very glad it's gone from our backyard, but whose backyard is it going into, environmentally? I'm hoping this is done appropriately."

So was Cowichan MP Jean Crowder. She's tabled a private-member's bill concerning legislation to stop dumping of derelict vessels along all Canadian shores.

But Crowder's bill's been parked in Parliament for more than a year.

"I'm (bill) still not up for (House) debate. I'm probably a couple of months out before my name gets called."

Still she said it'll take "multi levels" of government to demand and land derelict-boat laws.

Crowder called the five years Dominion sat in Cowichan Bay "ridiculous. It's about bloody time it was was gone."

"This is a problem that'll only get worse with aging vessels on our coats."

"We absolutely we need that (federal) legislation," said Iannidinardo.

"Let's follow Washington State's footprint with derelict boats. Why reinvent the wheel?

"They have an inventory of derelict vessels, and a fund to follow and fine their owners."

Crowder said Transport Canada has inventoried ditched vessels after municipal input "but that list severely under-represented the numbers," the NDP MP said.

"We need real eyes on the ground to assess environmental risks of these vessels."

Meanwhile, with Dominion gone, Iannidinardo continues pushing for clean industry to spawn jobs while respecting the tourist bay's delicate ecology.

"We can have industry, but we just have to do it differently. It's still a working bay according to our official community plan.

"Right now, I'm getting pressure about the mill dredging in the bay.

"That's 95 full-time jobs," she said, preferring regional green thinking about manufacturing and other tax-paying industries.

"What are we going to get with big-box stores? We need living wages. Forestry and fisheries made our community."

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