Derelict vessel issue taken up by federal NDP candidate

NANAIMO – Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP Jean Crowder's private member's bill dies in House of Commons.

The Member of Parliament who had her private member’s bill to remedy derelict vessels die on the floor of the House of Commons is looking to pass the issue to her successor.

Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder’s Bill C-638 would have put responsibility of receiver of wrecks on the Canadian Coast Guard. Crowder, who is not running in the next federal election, said Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP candidate and former Islands Trust chairwoman, will take up the cause. Both said the upcoming federal election could have a bearing on the direction of derelict vessels.

A framework proposed by Union of B.C. Municipalities and various Vancouver Island local governments would be ideal, according to Malcolmson. Legislation would use a transfer around vessel registration fees to create a pool of money. If there is a vessel at risk of becoming a problem, money would be available to deal with it immediately.

Malcolmson said the second phase of work would be to identify the responsible owner and utilize government staff to collect, so it becomes a user-pay formula.

“Said another way, is to be able to bring forward legislation that would include a tool on how to have a fund available to take quick action, and then a mechanism to ensure that those responsible for the pollution get the bill at the end of the day.

“But there’s no delay trying to track down who will ultimately receive that invoice because the thing with derelict vessels, whether it’s from a tourism or a pollution, or a public safety point of view, the importance is fast action and that is what has been missing here,” said Malcolmson.

Crowder was disappointed about the bill’s fate and said there were some misconceptions about financing.

“What my bill was doing was simply shifting the receiver of wrecks, which is already in place and already spending money on it, to the coast guard.”