NANAIMO — Money announced by the federal government to help deal with derelict vessels is not nearly enough, according to local MP Sheila Malcolmson.
The Nanaimo-Ladysmith New Democrat MP made the comment following a $1.3 million announcement Monday by federal transport minister Marc Garneau for removal of and education around derelict vessels in Canada. The funding will also be used to create a complete inventory of abandoned vessels assessing various risk levels across Canada, which he said has never been done before.
“Today's announcement for 21 vessel removals, two-and-a-half years into this government's term after they've been promising from day one that they were going to take action on this issue, honestly is a bit of a disappointment,” Malcolmson said during a conference call.
The Town of Ladysmith received a little more than $60,000 to deal with seven derelict vessels. However, the amount appears inadequate compared to the cost of cleaning up two high-profile boats from around the mid-island recently. Removing the Viki Lyne II in October 2016 cost more than $1 million, while NDP MP Gord Johns reported removal costs of nearly $300,000 to get an ailing tug boat out of Deep Bay.
Malcolmson said with thousands of derelict vessels sitting in Canadian waters, there's flaws in how local government's apply for derelict vessel funding from the federal government, pointing out boats in unincorporated waters won't be addressed.
“Partly it's a low numbers announcement today that's a problem, but also it points to poor program design that means that not all coastal communities get an equal kick at the can.”
Malcolmson said the government's application process is deeply bureaucratic and makes it difficult to attain any funding.
Malcolmson's derelict vessels private members bill fizzled in the House of Commons last fall in favour of quickly introduced federal legislation. It was focused on preventing abandoned vessels and involved the Coast Guard, which the federal strategy does not.
In addition to newly announced clean-up dollars, the federal legislation includes not allowing listless boats in same place for 60-days, along with measures to hold an abandoned vessel owner monetarily responsible.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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