A 90 foot wooden boat built in 1918 is grounded in Ladysmith Harbour and a suspected fuel spill is now being contained by a boom encircling the site of the incident.
A call was received by the Ladysmith Community Marina on Saturday (Oct. 21) around noon informing them that the Anapaya had gone down in the Dogpatch – an area of the harbour home to well over a dozen boats occupied by liveaboards.
According to Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson, Transport Canada listed the boat on its ‘Vessel of Concern’ list back in 2014 but did not take any action until after the sinking and resulting oil spill.
“The government knew this vessel posed a significant threat but took no action until after it was too late,” Sheila Malcolmson, NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, said in in the House of Commons last Tuesday.
“We’re grateful for the Coast Guard’s swift action, but this is just the latest example of the Liberal’s failed boat-by-boat approach on abandoned vessels.”
When the Anapaya went down the owners of the boat also had a second sailboat in Dogpatch are were able to escape safely with their belongings.
The Coast Guard and local salvage company Saltair Marine both responded and quickly deployed an oil containment boom to limit the damage and began cleanup efforts.
Workers have been on site all this week with a crane assessing whether the boat can be removed in one piece or if it will need to be broken apart due to extensive rotting.
Last Friday, Malcolmson along with MLA Doug Routley, Mayor Aaron Stone, Ladysmith Maritime Society executive director Rod Smith and members of town council visited the marina to catch a glimpse of the sunken boat with only its mast still visible.
Stone said as the town moves along with Stz’uminus First Nation on developing a waterfront plan that the federal government needs take action on the issue.
“These are opportunities to use an ounce of prevention really to save a pound of cure,” adding that he supports a boat amnesty pilot program that’s part of Malcomson’s Bill C-352 set to be debated in the house in early December.
“This boat has sunk and it’s going to cost significantly more to the taxpayers to remove that as well as the environment and other community impacts.”
The bill for the Viki Lyne II came in at $1.2 million.
On Monday, the federal government did finally introduce its own legislation on abandoned vessels, which have been a cause for concern in communities up and down the coast.
It’s not immediately clear what that could mean for Malcolmson’s bill and she said the Liberal’s plan is currently under review.
“Although with the Liberals, it’s often style over substance. We will review the legislation and ensure it lives up to expectations of coastal communities and that it offers real solutions,” she said, while also reminding the public that the NDP have raised this issue over 80 times since the Liberals were elected.
Bill C-352 proposes 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 jurisdictional disputes by making the Coast Guard responsible for directing the removal of abandoned vessels.
Ladysmith Maritime Society’s Rod Smith expressed his continued frustration of the ongoing problem and said he’s seen a half dozen incidents involving fires, boats sinking the owners deciding to scuttle the ship.
“It’s a daily threat. It’s not just annoying. There’s a very real possibility that something could turn into a disaster,” he said.
Smith is also hoping for a program to address derelect or abandoned vessels like the one in Washington state.
“It needs to be a coast-wide solution to make it work or it just moves them somewhere else… the only hope is a good federal program and it’s time for some leadership on it.”