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Second sunken boat finally removed from Nelson waterfront

John Boivin Local Journalism Initiative
By John Boivin Local Journalism Initiative
November 3rd, 2016

A second boat that sunk on the Nelson waterfront recently has the city’s mayor looking for answers again from the provincial government about removing derelict craft from local waters.

The bow of a cabin cruiser could be seen poking out of the shallow water near the Prestige Marina on Kootenay Lakefor several days. The pleasure boat was there for about a week before being removed Tuesday afternoon.

The owner of the boat declined to answer questions from The Nelson Daily.

“The boat was stolen, damaged, then ditched,” the owner said in a brief message. “Nobody helps, but only laughs.”

Nelson Police Department Sergeant Paul Bayes said they had been in contact with the owner, but had no information to treat the sinking as a criminal matter.

The owner’s misfortune, however, is Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak’s irritation that nothing’s been done about the problem of another wrecked boat within city limits.

She says she’s still waiting to hear what officials plan to do about the Obsidian, which sank near the waterfront last year.

“We’ve not heard back from the Ministry of Environment,” she said.

The Obsidian was a schooner outfitted to look like a pirate ship, and was a popular attraction in the harbour at Nelson. It sank for an unknown reason in August 2015.

It was the second time the boat sank and the owner said at the time he was seeking crowdfunding to pay for the boat’s salvage.

Part of the boat remains in the water visible from the Chalko Mika Mall parking lot.

Kozak says such sinkings are an eyesore, and can create an environmental and navigation hazard- but no one seems to do anything about it. She says the city can’t be responsible for salvage.

“The City does not have boat salvaging equipment,” she says. “It’s not part of our repertoire. We have a zodiac (boat) for rescues, that’s it.”

She says the Ministry of the Environment should contact people with the proper equipment to remove derelict vessels.

But it may not be in the Department of Environment’s domain. When it comes to sunken or abandoned ships, the bureaucratic entanglements are a Bermuda Triangle of responsibility.

 “Dealing with abandoned/derelict vessels on public waterways is a complex, time-consuming and costly job that can involve multiple agencies and levels of government depending on the circumstances,” David Karn, a spokesperson for the Environment department, told The Nelson Daily by email.

Who’s responsible depends on the individual circumstances of each wreck, and can include multiple federal and provincial ministries as well as local authorities.

In the case of the Obsidian, responsibility now rests with the Forests, lands and Natural Resources Operations department, he says. A spokesperson for that department could not be reached for comment.

In the meantime, Karn says the BC government is promoting efforts to streamline regulations to address the problem.

The province has drawn up a policy paper to clarify the roles of different government agencies in the event of a wreck. The paper can be viewed on the BC government website.

Categories: General

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