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Dangerous derelict vessel on shore highlights need for political action

Granthams Landing
This derelict vessel beached neared homes in Granthams Landing caused much concern for local residents who rallied together to remove the potential hazard.

A community effort to refloat a beached sailboat in Granthams Landing deemed “a clear and present danger” is putting the derelict vessel issue back at the top of political agendas this week.

According to some Granthams residents, the boat, which is around 15 metres long and missing its mast, had been adrift in the area since late November, before running aground sometime on Dec. 3. It has no name or registration numbers attached to it.

Ian Winn, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) director for West Howe Sound, said the derelict was a “clear and present danger” to both the Granthams wharf and waterfront properties in the 800 block of Marine Drive.

“We have a problem with derelict and abandoned vessels and have had for years, but [residents] don’t realize how much of a problem it is until you’ve got a bowsprit that’s poking right at the window of your cabin. Then it becomes real,” Winn told his fellow directors at the Dec. 10 SCRD board meeting.

Ann Oosterhuis lives a couple of doors down from the wharf. She and her neighbours put the word out about the derelict vessel via a local Facebook group and contacted Sunshine Coast RCMP and the Coast Guard.

“Their hands were tied. They couldn’t do anything because it’s not in their jurisdiction,” Oosterhuis said.

Winn tried to locate the boat’s owner to see if he could spur the various government agencies to action, without luck.

With more high winds, large tides and the possibility of storm surges in the forecast for Dec. 12 and 13, it was obvious the community was on its own to deal with the boat, and there wasn’t much time.

Winn turned to the Facebook group to call for volunteers to meet at the beach late Friday night (Dec. 11) to take advantage of low tide. They pumped the water from the hull and sealed the hatches and portholes.

Oosterhuis was surprised by the turnout. Around 20 people showed up for the twilight effort.

“Ian [Winn] brought down a generator, a pump and all these lights. It was like a movie set down there,” she said. “It took hours. Almost all of the time, until about midnight, it was pumping the water out of the hull.”

With that work done, tugboat operator Dan Crosby of Crosby Marine Services was able to tow the boat off the beach to a temporary moorage site at Williamsons Landing.

“Dan did not ask for any money,” Oosterhuis said. “He did it for the community. We were going to pass the hat around, but he didn’t want that. He said people should donate to the food bank instead. I thought that was just fantastic.”

According to Winn, he and Crosby will be keeping an eye on the boat while the effort to locate the owner continues. Winn said they have a name, but haven’t been able to contact that person yet.

“It does once again point out the urgency that the federal government should be addressing the issues with derelict and abandoned vessels. It is an ongoing problem here,” he told the SCRD board.

Previous attempts to get action in Ottawa haven’t gone very far. Former NDP MP Jean Crowder’s private members’ bill to make the Coast Guard the “receiver of wrecks” and give it full responsibility was defeated before the last election.

Former Conservative MP John Weston, of West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky Country, set up a local government stakeholders group and promised a private members bill of his own. It would have imposed criminal penalties on people who abandon boats. That bill never materialized.

The riding’s new Liberal MP, Pam Goldsmith-Jones, is now looking to see what she can do.

“I will pick up where the issue left off, by reviewing the legislation that did not pass in the last session of parliament. I have spoken with Vancouver Island MPs on this already and we will work together,” she said.

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