Transport Canada Abandoned Vessel Announcement a "Drop in the Bucket"

Nanaimo Port Authority receives $20,000 for abandoned vessel assessment.

As another busy boating season begins in B.C., the abandoned vessel problem remains unsolved. Transport Canada’s Friday announcement to remove two boats, and assess the possible removal of 29 more, is deeply inadequate.

This is a drop in the bucket given the scale of the problem; Friday’s announcement barely touches the thousands of abandoned vessels polluting our coasts. At this rate, it will take over 120 years to deal with the backlog, and this funding model puts local governments on the hook for a federal problem.

I applaud the work of those, like the Nanaimo Port Authority who are receiving funding for vessel assessment, but this doesn’t equal abandoned vessels being removed. We’re now two and a half years into this government's term, and after having promised from day one that they would take immediate action on the abandoned vessel issue, this announcement is frankly a disappointment.

On May 2, I called out the Liberal government in a letter to Transport Minister Marc Garneau and the Prime Minister for dragging their feet, marking the second month that Bill C-64 has been shelved and missing from the Trudeau government’s legislative schedule. Following pressure from the NDP and coastal communities, abandoned vessels are finally back on the federal legislative agenda, with the debate on the government's Bill C-64 now scheduled for May 30th, representing a win for coastal communities.

I hope when the government returns its bill to Parliament, it will finally include the abandoned vessel solutions coastal communities have been requesting for a decade: to fix vessel registration, pilot a vessel turn-in program, create good green jobs by supporting local marine salvage businesses and vessel recycling, and end the jurisdictional run-around by making the Coast Guard responsible for directing the removal of abandoned vessels.