Bird's Eye Cove boat owners receive notice to relocate
Owners of anchored or moored boats in Bird's Eye Cove received notice Wednesday from the Municipality of North Cowichan they need to remove them within seven days or face a $500 fine.
"Be advised that effective immediately, you are hereby ordered to relocate your vessel clear of the Private Residence Water Lot Zone (W1) as it is in direct contravention of Section 64.1 of District Zoning Bylaw 2950,'' reads the notice from Scott Mack, director of development services for North Cowichan.
"The W1 zone is reprinted on the reverse side of this letter in addition to a map illustrating the extent of Municipal jurisdiction which extends 1,000 feet out from the high water mark and covers Bird's Eye Cove. Moorage at anchor or by mooring buoy is not a permitted use.
"Moorage at anchor or by mooring buoy for any period of time is prohibited. Failure to comply with this order by 9 a.m., July 16, 2014 will result in the issuance of a $500 fine payable to the district.''
North Cowichan council was expected to discuss the sudden move to declare all moored boats in Bird's Eye Cove illegal in a meeting occurring this afternoon.
Floathome owners Don and Bridget Bruneski are among those affected and expressed concern there has been no previous information from North Cowichan, publicity or posting of notices.
"We've had our boat here for pretty close to 22 years on a mooring,'' said Bridget. "We've never had any notification from North Cowichan with anything to do with it.
"To be given a notice to be gone in seven days is bizarre. It's sort of a sledgehammer approach.''
The Maple Bay Community Association recently expressed its concern about derelicts, sewage hook-ups for live-aboards and noise bylaws as three areas that needed to be enforced.
North Cowichan staff was directed to review the situation.
"Staff reviewed our zoning regulations for W1 that regulates the shoreline within 1,000 feet in Maple Bay,'' said North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure.
As a result of that, he said, the decision was made for bylaw compliance.
"We have thousands of bylaws,'' Lefebure said. "We are physically unable to enforce all of them 100%.
"In this case, council felt there was a legitimate concern raised about crowded waterways and noise and environmental impacts from vessels that might be moored and that bylaw enforcement should take place in this location.''
"Ours and others are not derelict vessels,'' said Bridget. "They are used and maintained.''
The economic impact on the valley could be significant if Bird's Eye Cove is no longer available for anchorage, she added.
"The notice states that "moorage at anchor or by mooring buoy is not a permitted use'' in the W1 area of Bird's Eye Cove. This means that visiting boats from Canada, U.S., the rest of the world are not allowed to anchor there despite this having been an anchorage for decades.''