Recent stormy weather resulted in two derelict boats washing ashore at Cadboro Bay beach.
“It’s a public park, it’s used heavily by people and it’s also a junkyard,” said Bill Davis, a homeowner whose backyard has beach access. One of the large vessels wound up directly behind Davis’ home.
About a hundred yards down, another abandoned boat blocks the way as many beachgoers are seen carefully sidestepping the vessel on their morning walk.
Adam Coolidge, owner of Cold Water Marine Response, has seen this story before.
“If a car ends up in your backyard, the police will come with a tow truck and remove it right away. When this happens, with a boat in your backyard, it can be here for years before it actually gets dealt with,” said Coolidge.
He says the Canadian Coast Guard normally contracts him or others in the industry to swiftly remove boats if they pose an immediate environmental threat — such as leaking oil or diesel — but when they don’t, the boats get shuffled down the priority list, where people like Davis could wait years to have them removed.
“If it’s not polluting and doesn’t meet the strict guidelines, there’s no money to get it funded,” said Coolidge, who says he’s seen at least four boats wash up on beaches in greater Victoria since September.
Davis is exploring his options but says he’ll likely end up privately paying upwards of thousands to have Coolidge remove and destroy the boat.
“It’s something that you either deal with or live with,” said Davis who adds that he’d rather pay in lieu of waiting a few years for government action. “It’s not pleasant to have to pay for somebody else’s negligence.”
The Canadian Coast Guard told CHEK News they are dealing with over 1,600 derelict vessels across the province and that they prioritize each case based on a “risk hazard” basis. They say limited funding and resources are factors when it comes to removing vessels in a timely fashion.
The Coast Guard adds that all vessel owners should understand their responsibilities as vessel owners and familiarize themselves with the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.
Coolidge, meanwhile, warns that without more funding and action, the worst is yet to come.
“It is storm season, salvage season, so this is only the beginning,” said Coolidge. “It’s not just in Cadboro Bay, it’s going to be all over BC, so this is a growing concern.”
Coolidge says he’s reached out to the Canadian Coast Guard to request funding for the immediate removal of boats but has yet to receive a response.
For now, those like Davis who live on the coast can only hope for mild weather in the months ahead.