A pile of cut-up wood is all that’s left of a derelict boat that sat on a Tsartlip First Nation beach for 20 years. The wreckage was finally removed last week thanks to the Salish Sea Community Guardians Society.

” If you look at it, at the perspective being your beach, you would like to have it so you could use it as a beach rather than it being a junkyard,” said Peter Harris a member of the Guardians Society.

The society is a new collaboration between members of the Tsartlip First Nation, industry professionals and people from the Brentwood bay Community.  They work together, sharing skills with each other to clean up derelict boats.

The work on the Tsartlip First Nation beach is almost done, with just a few bits left that were set to be removed by Thursday night.

“We’re right now in the process of removing the diesel motors and gas tanks,” said Victor Flett, a member of the Guardians Society.

To remove the boat from the beach, they attached a chain to the scrap metal chunks that were then pulled by a tugboat to finish the job. It was the first derelict boat removed by the Guardians but not the last.

They plan to continue their work together to tackle other boats.

“We can learn together not only about the First Nation’s environment, but also all of us learning about technologies to remove these derelict boats that are all across B.C.,” said Flett.

It was too late to stop the boat from leaking toxins. After 20 years, all of its pollutants had already seeped into the sea. But the hope is they’ll reach other wrecks far sooner.

“We want to be removing the fuel, the oil the hydraulic fuel, coolant, paint, stripping all these crazy things that are on these vessels, removing them before they get into the ocean,” said James Macdougall, a member of the Guardians and owner of Superior Steam and Vac Ltd.

What’s left of the derelict’s shell will be burned and for the first time in two decades, this stretch of beach will find a bit of its pristine past.

Luisa Alvarez