Re: “Gibsons mayor promises action on barges,” Oct. 16.
Here we go again.
Navigation and shipping is a federal head of power under the Canadian constitution. Only the federal government can delegate its powers to lower levels of government (provinces and municipalities). The province of B.C. (generally) has jurisdiction over water-covered land and may delegate its powers to others, including municipalities; recreational water-lot leases are one way to do this. But the province cannot delegate powers it does not have.
Anchoring is part of navigation. If a vessel remains at anchor for a prolonged period of time, then it is no longer navigating and may become subject to provincial and municipal jurisdiction.
If the barges anchored off the Gibsons breakwater are a hazard to navigation, then the federal government has the right to take action under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and any complaint should be addressed to Transport Canada. It is difficult, however, to see how commercial barges, temporarily anchored away from the approach to Gibsons harbour, are a threat to recreational craft. The biggest threat is in the entrance itself during the summer months when the area is congested and common sense and good seamanship seem to evaporate.
If the Town of Gibsons is serious about controlling long-term anchoring within the area defined by its water-lot lease, then maybe it should start to do so. Several recreational craft left at anchor have sunk and remain on the (municipal) seabed; they are unmarked and are a genuine hazard. To date, the municipality has done nothing substantive to control long-term anchoring of recreational craft on its property nor to deal effectively with the consequences.
Jonathan Seymour, Gibsons