The remains of a derelict vessel that crashed onto Florencia Bay in April were removed this week.
The Pacific Rim National Park’s resource conservation manager Renee Wissink said dismantling and removing a derelict vessel requires maneuvering through an arduous process and he’s relieved to see the vessel finally gone.
“We would have liked to have done it sooner but there was definitely hoops to be jumped before we could actually get to dismantling the boat,” he said.
Park staff removed all metals and electronics from the vessel before chopping it into pieces, which were carried above the tideline and placed in totes that were slung away by a helicopter.
The Park confirmed on June 17 that the helicopter slinging was complete and the area, which was closed while the work was ongoing, had reopened.
Wissink said the project took a significant amount of staff time during a busy time for the Park as visitors are pouring in and infrastructure upgrades are ongoing.
“Because of the location on Florencia, where we can’t get vehicles or heavy equipment onto the beach, it pretty much comes down to manual labour,” he said.
“It’s incredibly difficult to release staff, but at the same time this was an important project. We’re a world leader in conservation so, both from the visitor experience perspective and the ecological integrity perspective, this was important to deal with the boat.”
The vessel washed ashore on April 21.
It had previously sunk near Effingham and was towed to Port Alberni to be scrapped but was somehow purchased for $1 by a man who then attempted to tow it to Ahousaht on April 20.
During the tow, the vessel began taking on too much water for the pumps to keep up so the owner cut it loose and left it to sink.
Wissink said the Park’s attempts to contact the owner for help removing the vessel have gone unanswered.
“We never were able to get in touch with the owner and that was unfortunate and it wasn’t for lack of trying,” he said. “Parks Canada will be footing the bill unfortunately.”
He said the Park would continue trying to contact the owner to find out if the vessel was insured.
“We haven’t been able to have that discussion with the owner,” he said. “At this point, we’re going to continue to try to have that discussion.”
Wissink said the cost of the work would depend on how many trips the helicopter needed to take.
“That’s kind of the wildcard at the moment,” he said. “We don’t have a budget line per se; it will cost what it costs and we’ll figure it out from there.”
He said the Park would not receive additional funding to pay for the vessel’s removal.
“This money will come from our existing operational budget; there will be no additional funds allocated to us as a result of this,” he said adding the added expense should not affect the Park’s summer offerings.
“We always have money set aside for contingencies, as any government agency does, so hopefully we can deal with this well within our existing contingency.”
He said the Park appreciated Surfrider Pacific Rim’s emergency response efforts to clear debris around the vessel.
“We certainly applaud the efforts of the Surfrider foundation, not only in what they tried to do in helping with this boat but also in their ongoing efforts with beach cleanups in and around the Park,” he said.
“It’s a phenomenal organization. They do tremendous work. We certainly understood their frustration on this one but there was a process that we had to follow before we could act.”
He hopes to see ongoing political discussions initiate effective methods for dealing with derelict vessels.
“There is discussions about approving the legislative process behind derelict vessels, essentially something that would be more expedient and have a little more teeth,” he said.
“There are both legislative and regulatory things on the horizon but unfortunately they weren’t going to help us in this case.”