Derelict dock stuck on Mudge Island

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, May 2 2017

A derelict boat dock which landed on Link Beach on the south end of Mudge Island in early April is now falling to pieces with styrofoam flotation littering the beach.

Douglas MacDonald of Mudge contacted the Sounder frustrated with the lack of response from either the provincial or federal governments.

As of yet, no one has been able to figure out where the original location of the dock might have been.

MacDonald said, “The thing is huge, being approximately 80 feet long by 24 feet wide.   

“Never mind the hazard posed to mariners as it travelled to our shores, our greatest concern is that it is full of the old type Styrofoam flotation.

“Our obvious concern when it showed up was if we saw higher tides coupled with strong winds, that the dock would break up with an increased risk of this material being released onto the waters.”

After the dock’s arrival, islanders started to call around to various government agencies to see who would help in dealing with the dock.

MacDonald called the BC Environment Ministry hotline.

As of yet, no one knows if any action is going to be taken. Emails and phone calls by the Sounder to provincial and federal departments were not answered as of press time. The Nanaimo Port Authority was also contacted, but had not responded in any fashion as of press time.

MacDonald said, “Two full weeks later the only thing that has happened is that we had high tides and strong winds last night.

“The dock is in a number of pieces now, with the Styrofoam flotation everywhere.”

He added this past Thursday that yet another call through the Ministry of Environment hotline netted a call back from an unnamed conservation officer who informed MacDonald that the federal department was going to be dealing with it.

MacDonald said, “If anyone is ‘dealing’ with this problem, they are doing a terrible job of it. 

“The only relevant point now is that the dock is broken, with the Styrofoam flotation being released into our environment.  

“I really don’t care where the dock came from, who owned it or how it ended up here.  

“The fact is that it is here, and some agency must assist in its removal.”

Sheila Malcolmson, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, has been advocating for many years as both the MP and in her previous roles with the Islands Trust to have the federal and provincial governments take more responsibility on these issues.

This latest issue, and the lack of response, did not surprise her.

Malcolmson said it was a similar situation with a barge (the former floating McDonalds barge from Expo ‘86) which ran aground on Galiano Island that began the Islands Trust’s involvement in dealing with derelict vessels in the gulf islands.

“That took the community ratepayers’ association pushing for more than 10 years before the Trust Council got it removed.”

In April, Malcolmson tabled an enhanced bill to force the federal government to take action.

 “In absence of federal leadership on this issue, I’m proposing a comprehensive solution to clean up abandoned vessels and protect our coasts,” said Malcolmson.

For decades, Malcolmson says, all three of Canada’s coasts have been experiencing recurring issues with abandoned vessels, and coastal communities have repeatedly called for federal action.

“Abandoned vessels are a serious environmental and navigational hazard. They’re a major source of oil spills, jeopardizing valuable aquaculture and commercial fishing jobs, and threatening tourism. Until now, gaps in jurisdiction have left coastal communities with nowhere to turn for help. ”

Malcolmson’s new legislation, Bill C-352, would designate the Canadian Coast Guard as the agency responsible for directing the removal and recycling of abandoned vessels. It builds on her previous bill, C-219, which was introduced in February of 2016.

This past Tuesday night, the Regional District of Nanaimo Board voted unanimously in favour of supporting Malcolmson’s bill.