Opinion

Our take: Treat derelict vessels like abandoned cars

Leave your car parked longer than the three-hour limit in downtown Duncan and you will be getting a friendly greeting from a ticket-toting commissionaire.

“Abandon” it on the side of the highway for even a short length of time and you will soon find yourself at the impound lot, forking over a healthy wad of cash to get it back.

Randomly drop anchor for your boat pretty much anywhere along the Cowichan coastline and about the only way you won’t be able to reclaim it, any time you want, penalty-free, is if an act of God sends it to the sea floor.

Derelict ships have been a longstanding plague on local waters for about as long as anyone can remember and it’s past time for that to change.

Now, as before, about the only thing standing in the way of that happening is the will of the federal government.

The reason Duncan can crack down on automobiles is because the city has the legal authority to do so; same goes for the RCMP. The reason no one can do the same with boats is because there is nobody with similar powers governing our coast.

Environment Canada can act if there is a clear environmental hazard. The Coast Guard can act if there is a clear navigation hazard. Absent either, the community is powerless.

The obvious solution is to create a local coastal authority empowered to create and enforce community standards the same way the City of Duncan enforces same within its boundaries.

But MP Jean Crowder says there seems to be movement from the federal government toward copying a system in place in Washington State. That system uses a fund built with boat registration fees to pay for derelict removal.

Sounds reasonable. Less talking, please, more doing.

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