The Viking I is recovered in Nanaimo in August 2016. Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, said she thinks a recently announced abandoned boat plan falls short. (News Bulletin file)

The Viking I is recovered in Nanaimo in August 2016. Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, said she thinks a recently announced abandoned boat plan falls short. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Malcolmson says abandoned boat plan falls short

Sheila Malcolmson says $5.6 million over five years a ‘drop in the bucket.’

A Transport Canada plan on abandoned vessels isn’t floating with Sheila Malcolmson, MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

As part of a Government of Canada announcement Wednesday, there will be $6.85 million allocated for the Abandoned Boats Program, with $5.6 million (over five years) for assessment and removal projects and $1.25 million (over five years) for education awareness and research projects, but Malcolmson said it falls short.

The government said it will only cover up to 75 per cent of boat removal and disposal, although it could cover more in exceptional circumstances. Community organizations or local governments would have to foot the rest of the bill, according to Malcolmson.

“I’m glad to see that there’s some action happening and it’s a big credit to all the local governments that have been pushing so hard on this and I’d like to think all the times that I’ve been standing up in the House, encouraging the government to put its good words into action and $1 million a year for the thousands of abandoned vessels on all three coasts of Canada is just a drop in the bucket and a disappointment,” said Malcolmson.

She pointed to when the Viki Lyne II was removed from Ladysmith harbour, which had a price tag of $1.2 million.

“If we ended up with another huge boat like that, that could take the budget for the entire country for the year,” said Malcolmson.

While Malcolmson said she was pleased with money being available for research, which will include examination of better recyclable boat materials, the amount is not enough.

“I was glad to see the government recognize the need for that product stewardship and product development recycling, but the money’s very, very small and it’s not that the government itself is going to lead that initiative. It’s kind of a request for proposals,” said Malcolmson.

In April, Malcolmson introduced Bill C-352, which would amend the Canada Shipping Act to designate the Canadian Coast Guard for vessel removal and assign it responsibility for contacting vessel owners, and she expects it will be debated in October.