|| That Bill C-64 be amended by deleting Clause 5.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am standing once again in the House to talk about the imperative for federal action to deal with abandoned vessels. Because of fishermen being forced out of the commercial fishing fleets, because fibreglass is reaching the end of its lifetime, and because climate change is creating different types of storms, all coasts of Canada are littered with abandoned vessels.
For 15 years, it has been clear that there is a jurisdictional hole that no government has been able to fill. As a result, it has fallen to coastal communities, which have had to try to jerry-rig solutions. My predecessor, Jean Crowder, as the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, had legislation in the House that was supported by the Liberal Party when it was the third party, so we had real optimism that in this session of Parliament, we would find legislative solutions for abandoned vessels.
I think back to my start, when I was first elected chair of the Islands Trust Council, which is a regional government in the Salish Sea charged with a mandate of preservation and protection. We were approached by ratepayers on Parker Island, just off Galiano Island, in the Salish Sea. They had been trying for 10 years to get a government department to agree to help them with a wrecked barge from the early 1980s that had been sitting on their shore for 10 years. Every department gave them the runaround. They were told to talk to navigation, talk to environment, talk to land management, and talk to the Coast Guard. They were at the end of their rope, so on behalf of the Islands Trust Council, I went to the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities conference. There were five other resolutions, not just from the Islands Trust Council but from local governments from all over British Columbia, the Sunshine Coast, and the Vancouver Island area that were facing the same problem, and we were all at the end of our rope.
We were able to bring together solutions. We said, “Let us get together and design what would be a good fit.” We looked to Washington state, which has had a very successful abandoned vessel program operating since the early part of this century and lots of working experience. We passed resolutions. The AVICC did, as did the Union of B.C. Municipalities. It became a big election issue in my riding, because with a huge, 100-foot, hulking boat that the federal government towed into their harbour, residents wanted to vote on this. They were looking for an MP who would take the imperative to act to Ottawa. I was so honoured to be elected to do this work.
In the legislation I tabled in this House, I built on Jean Crowder's bill, and then I updated it a year and a bit later when my amazing staff team found a way to build all the solutions from coastal communities into my private member's bill. That was in April 2017. I was on the verge of bringing all those solutions to the House to debate in December, when, as we will remember, the Liberals used some unused tactics to block and then basically vote down my bill to prevent it from even being debated and voted on. It was not a possible outcome I could ever have imagined.
Because the transport minister said he was going to legislate on abandoned vessels, I really hoped he would just plagiarize my bill and bring my elements into his or at least recognize, when he tabled his own bill, on Halloween last year, that Bill 's proposed remedy of penalizing and fining for abandoned and wrecked vessels would not work unless he brought in the elements of my bill. They would deal with the backlog and also fix vessel registration. If we are going to fine an abandoned vessel, we need to know who the owners are to send them a fine or penalty. This has been said in the House before.
The two pieces of legislation would have worked well together. Members could probably recite the pieces I proposed along with me. They would deal with the backlog by putting in place a pilot program, a vessel turn-in program, as has been done with great success in Washington and Oregon. It would be kind of a boat amnesty. People who did not know how to deal with a boat at the end of its life could get it out of the water where it could be safely recycled. We could create incentives for fibreglass recycling and piggyback on the government's avowed innovation agenda. Let us do something to help us deal with marine plastics and waste fibreglass. Let us find new markets so we can recycle and work with local salvage companies to deal with this mess.
We need to fix vessel registration so boat owners can be more accountable and so the costs do not end up on the backs of taxpayers. And there is more.
I had all of those solutions from coastal communities and coastal governments in my legislation. When my private member's bill was killed by the government, I worked hard at transport committee to insert each of those solutions into Bill .
To my great disappointment and despite the fact that so many witnesses said they wanted all those elements in the legislation, people on the ground like the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, West Coast Environmental Law, local governments, marina operators, people who all endorsed the solutions from coastal communities that I proposed to amend the bill, both Liberals and Conservatives voted all of those amendments down.
Here I stand with my final attempt to improve this legislation and to bring the solutions that would help coastal communities into the bill.
During the committee's study, we identified the fact that the government is not going to apply the fine and penalty system that is in Bill to government-owned property. We have a lot of examples on the B.C. coast and the Atlantic coast of government assets becoming abandoned vessels.
The member of Parliament for was involved in the removal of the vessel Laurier from Baynes Sound, which is a rich aquaculture shellfish area. A lot of jobs are dependent on it. Everybody was worried when the Laurier sank. It turned out that it was an old fisheries inspection vessel with many stories. It was also a Coast Guard vessel. It was a government asset that became an abandoned vessel.
On the east coast the Cormorant is an old Navy ship that has been languishing at the dock in Bridgeport for over 10 years. It too is an abandoned government vessel. A lot of my British Columbia colleagues will have seen the old wrecked BC Ferries vessel still with the logo on its side. It is a disaster. It looks like a ghost ship.
We have Coast Guard vessels, Navy vessels, the whole gamut on the coast of British Columbia. My amendment before the House proposed to close that loophole and make the fines and penalties equivalent, whether it is a government asset or a private vessel, in order to bring accountability and fairness as well.
From both a fairness perspective and an environmental perspective, this is our last chance to try to improve the bill.
We take pride in the fact that this legislation is going to be voted on during the final days of this Parliament because of the tenacity of and pressure from the Nanaimo Port Authority, the mayor of Ladysmith, and Chief John Elliott of the Stz'uminus first nation. There has been a lot of co-operation and that has led to some success and has really put this issue on centre stage.
I am pleased to see the pan-partisan support for solutions on abandoned vessels. I remain discouraged that some of the solutions that were proposed by coastal communities, that would have dealt with the backlog, that would have worked with salvage companies to create jobs and innovate and recycle are not present in Bill . None of those elements have any presence in the bill. There still is a lot of work for us to do as a country to get this problem off the backs of coastal communities.
Voting yes to my report stage amendment to remove the clause that would exempt the government from the same penalties that it is putting on private boaters would be the one thing that we could do in these final hours of this Parliament.
For the sake of coastal communities, for small businesses, for tourism, for the coastal environment, I urge my colleagues to vote yes.
Madam Speaker, there are many arguments in favour of this bill.
However, the most convincing argument is the fact that Canadians are calling for the measures we are proposing in this important bill. Many petitions have been tabled in the House in this regard.
The vast majority of owners are responsible and dispose of their vessels properly, but even a small number of neglected or abandoned vessels can create hazards with detrimental and costly impacts on local communities. These vessels are not just eyesores. They can pollute the marine environment and damage shoreline infrastructure. They pose risks to navigation and public health and safety. They can also harm industries, such as fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism, local industries that are dependent upon clean waters and that contribute nearly $40 billion a year to the Canadian economy.
Especially frustrating for responsible vessel owners and marine facility owners is the fact that abandoned and dilapidated vessels can take up valuable mooring space, and this can lead to economic losses to both property owners and local communities. Of course, these vessels can be extremely costly to clean up, ranging from a few thousand dollars for small boats to millions of dollars for larger vessels. That is why Bill proposes aggressive measures to prevent irresponsible owners from abandoning or neglecting their vessels so that the costs and perils of cleanup are not left to the taxpayers and local communities. This legislation is the next critical step forward in our $1.5-billion oceans protection plan, our comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy to improve marine safety, promote responsible shipping, and protect Canada's marine environment.
Our existing laws do not allow us to comprehensively address all of the risks posed by wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels, or problem vessels, including the ability to take direct action on such vessels. The wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels act would significantly strengthen our ability to address problem vessels by fixing these legislative gaps. With this bill, the federal government would be able to take measures to prevent, mitigate, and eliminate hazards. Bill includes new measures to prohibit vessel abandonment, strengthen vessel owner responsibility and liability, and enhance federal powers on two vital fronts.
First, it would require that owners bear responsibility for their vessels. This includes prohibiting abandonment and not allowing vessels to become dilapidated or hazardous. Second and equally important, the proposed legislation would make owners liable for the cost of vessel cleanup and proper disposal.
Furthermore, in conjunction with this bill, the government has started developing a national inventory of problem vessels, so that decisions about removing these vessels can be made based on evidence. This measure will also include a risk assessment, to prioritize the problem vessels based on the risk they present.
As part of the oceans action plan, we are also helping communities deal with the vessels that are polluting our coastlines and waterways. Canadians whose economic and cultural well-being are dependent on our water have expressed their desire to be involved in the solution. However, especially in rural areas, communities often lack the financial resources required to address the problem.
In May 2017, we announced the five-year, $6.85-million abandoned boats program. The bulk of funding being offered through this program, $5.6 million, is dedicated to helping partners such as other levels of government, indigenous groups, ports, and community groups to remove and dispose of the highest-priority abandoned or wrecked small vessels. In September 2017, we launched a complementary five-year, $1.3-million abandoned and wrecked vessels removal program. This initiative offers funding to assist in the removal of priority vessels and wrecks currently abandoned in federally owned small craft harbours. This program will benefit local commercial fishing industries and affected coastal communities.
Another way we are helping affected communities is by supporting education efforts. Not all vessel owners understand their responsibilities or are aware of their disposal options. Through the abandoned boats program, we are funding activities that educate small vessel owners on how to responsibly manage their vessels and how to make them more aware of available disposal options at the local level.
We are also supporting research on vessel recycling and environmentally responsible vessel design, which has the potential to, for example, further benefit communities through new business opportunities and reduce pressures on landfills.
I have spoken about some of the measures we are already taking to address wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels, but new legislation is needed. The critical way in which Bill would make a meaningful difference is through prevention.
The Government of Canada is determined to take action on vessels that cause hazards before they harm the environment and become a burden on taxpayers. By being proactive, we can avoid, reduce, contain or control problems before they become bigger problems and become even more costly to address. The bill proposes new authorities to prohibit owners from abandoning their vessels before the fact.
Federal officials would be empowered to order owners to take action on vessels that are dilapidated or may pose hazards and are therefore at risk of becoming abandoned or wrecked. They could also impose significant penalties for noncompliance. We will work with affected communities that best know their local environments to confirm whether and what hazards may exist with problem vessels or wrecks and to identify the most appropriate actions to be taken.
Every effort will be made to thwart problems before our waterways are put at risk. Under the proposed legislation, vessel owners will be responsible for addressing their vessels or wrecks. When they are unwilling or unable to take action, we will be able to respond proactively and comprehensively thanks to the new powers contained in Bill .
Even when we intervene, the owner will continue to remain liable for all costs and expenses.
This proposed legislation to address wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels will increase the strength and capabilities of Canada's marine safety regime. It will promote responsible shipping on Canada's oceans and in our inland waterways. It will also reduce pressures on our local communities that in the past were forced to take owners of dilapidated vessels to court and incur costly legal bills or pay the clean-up costs themselves.
Bill proposes to provide a powerful new tool to go after vessel owners who act irresponsibly, those whose carelessness and neglect put the health and safety of Canadians, the environment and the welfare of local economies at risk. Coupled with other actions we are taking under the oceans protection plan to address wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels, these proactive measures will go a long way in responding to the concerns raised by residents of coastal communities.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill , an act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations.
This is an important bill. In fact, it was considered so important that it was passed at second reading without any debate so the transportation, infrastructure and communities committee could study it expeditiously. Now that the bill has been reported back, I am pleased that the chamber is taking some time to discuss its merits.
Since we are currently at report stage, I will comment on the amendment put forward by my colleague, the member for, but first I will discuss the bill in general.
I will readily admit, being from Saskatchewan, that prior to Bill being introduced, the issue of wrecked and abandoned vessels was one with which I was not overly familiar. I can honestly say that not once during the many round tables, constituent meetings, and town halls I have held in my riding over the last nine years has this issue ever come up for my constituents. Having said that, I completely understand why the bill is so important to members of the House who represent ridings along our beautiful coast lines.
As the Conservative Party's shadow minister for transport, I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to learn about the concerns of Canadians regarding transportation matters, regardless of where they live.
The transportation committee's study of Bill was very informative for me. I truly appreciated hearing from the many witnesses who provided their testimony and the many stakeholders who met with the members of the transportation, infrastructure and communities committee to impress upon us the need for legislation as there was currently a lack of legislative clarity around this issue. If given royal assent, the bill will create a new comprehensive act, the wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels act.
If enacted, this new act will do a number of things First, it will give force of law to the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007. Second, the act addresses irresponsible vessel management and enhances federal powers to take action by the federal government. Third, the new act will give force of law to the International Salvage Convention, 1989.
The last point that I want to touch on with respect to this new act is that it will create an administrative and enforcement regime for vessels wrecked and abandoned on Canada's coasts with accompanying offenses and punishments.
Stepping back a little, by way of solutions for the issue of wrecked, abandoned, or dilapidated vessels off Canada's coasts, there are two schools of thought.
The first is to make the federal government ultimately responsible for vessels that become wrecked or abandoned on our coasts. To pursue this solution would be at a tremendous cost to Canadian taxpayers. Taxpayers should not be the ones to bear the financial burden of someone else's irresponsibility. Also on this point, if the federal government were ultimately responsible for all wrecked and abandoned vessels, there would be the potential that Canada's coasts could become a dumping ground for vessels that would have reached the end of their life cycle.
The second school of thought proposes a solution that I much prefer. It puts the onus for the removal and/or clean up back onto the offending vessel's owner and makes he or she responsible for the cost to do so. This is a more conservative solution. Individuals should be responsible for their own actions and individual vessel owners should be responsible for their property. When someone abandons or causes his or her vessel to become wrecked, either through neglect or willful actions, that person should be responsible for the vessels removal or the cost of removing it.
Additionally, another benefit of this second solution is that it will discourage owners of aging and/or dilapidated vessels from considering abandoning a vessel in our waters. While we do not want vessels being abandoned or wrecked anywhere in the world, the responsibility of the Government of Canada is to Canadians, to our coastal waters, and to Canada's coastal residents.
I believe that the bill falls more in line with the second solution I just described. As a result, I believe that Bill would have a positive effect on our coastal waters by discouraging owners of aging and dilapidated vessels from considering abandoning their vessels in our waters while at the same time setting up a system whereby vessel owners can be held responsible.
The second solution which I have outlined requires some basic information in order to be a workable solution. That basic information includes knowing who the owners are of each individual wrecked or abandoned vessel. Presently here in Canada, we are lacking this vital information. In order for the bill to work, it will be necessary for the Government of Canada to know what vessels are currently abandoned in our waters and who owns them. While the bill would not automatically create that list, it would be a step in the right direction.
Building on that, the federal government will need to maintain a record of vessels entering our territorial waters. Once it does that, it will be able to hold vessel owners responsible either through vessel insurance or through legal proceedings. Therefore, it is critical that the Government of Canada have the necessary information on vessels for this strategy to work.
Our support for the bill should come as no surprise to the House. During the last Parliament, there were a number of attempts through private members' bills to change Canada's legislation with respect to abandoned vessels. However, most of those attempts fell more in line with the first solution which I outlined earlier in my remarks where the federal government would become responsible for the cost of cleaning up and removing abandoned vessels, meaning Canadian taxpayers would ultimately be on the hook.
Giving credit where credit is due, my former colleague, John Weston, saw the problem with these proposals but also heard from his constituents that the issue of wrecked, abandoned, and derelict vessels needed to be addressed. In June 2015, he introduced a private member's bill that would have made it a criminal offence to abandon a boat subject to jail time, with fines of up to $100,000, and authorized the minister to sell a vessel that is deemed abandoned. Mr. Weston's bill would have discouraged the behaviour of abandoning a vessel. Building on his private member's bill, the Conservative Party's platform in 2015 included the following commitment:
|| A re-elected Conservative Government will commit to supporting MP Weston’s bill, and also set aside [funds]...to cover one third of the cost of removing priority derelict vessels.
Additionally, the issue highlighted by Mr. Weston's private member's bill made its way into the Conservative Party's policy declaration statement. As amended at the May 2016 national convention, section 128 of our policy declaration statement says, “the Conservative Party stands by its commitment to facilitate rehabilitation or demolition of abandoned and derelict vessels.”
Earlier in this Parliament, my Conservative colleagues and I were pleased to join with all members of the House to vote in favour of Motion No. 40, presented by the member for .
Finally, to address the report stage amendment that is currently before us, this amendment would remove clause 5 from the bill. I am concerned that removing this clause of the bill would unnecessarily contravene the principle of sovereign immunity which is recognized in Canadian legislation. For this reason, I do not support this amendment.
I want to indicate to all members of the House that my Conservative colleagues and I will be voting in favour of the bill. We need to protect our coasts and protect the Canadian taxpayer from the negative impact and cost of wrecked, abandoned, and derelict vessels.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today in support of Bill . As a matter of fact, I am not just happy, I am thrilled to see this legislation before the House at report stage. After years of zero action by successive governments on the issues of abandoned and wrecked vessels, I am particularly happy our government is taking steps to respond to the pleas of coastal communities and address the issue that has plagued our coastlines for years.
The problem of abandoned and derelict vessels is sadly not an unheard of issue in my riding of South Shore—St. Margarets. From Bridgewater to Shelburne, or from Feltzen South to Woods Harbour, people abandoning vessels is not unheard of. It is also an issue not uncommon across the country, as many of my colleagues from British Columbia, the Great Lakes region, and many other areas can attest to. That is why I was happy to introduce my motion, Motion No. 40, in February 2016, which called on the government to develop solutions for our communities dealing with this ongoing problem. I am thrilled that the legislation we see before us today incorporates all parts of my motion.
Our existing laws do not allow us to comprehensively address the risks posed by abandoned and derelict vessels or problem vessels. Bill would significantly strengthen our ability to address problem vessels by fixing existing legislative loopholes while also empowering the federal government to take measures to prevent, mitigate, and eliminate hazards. Bill would also finally make it illegal to abandon a vessel for someone else to have to deal with down the road. This is huge, particularly in rural communities.
One only has to look to the town of Shelburne in Nova Scotia to see the impact an abandoned vessel can have on a whole community. The Farley Mowat was brought into Shelburne harbour under the cover of darkness, tied up at the town's wharf, and left for three years. The town owns the wharf where the Farley Mowat was left, and had no recourse to deal with this rusting vessel taking up space. The Farley Mowat sank, was raised, flooded, had to be pumped out continually, took up to a quarter of the town's prime wharf space, and was an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful harbour. The day the government issued the removal order was a day of celebration in Shelburne. The crowds gathered, with bagpipes, media, and of course cake to celebrate the removal.
This bill would increase vessel owner responsibility and shift the burden away from Canadian taxpayers and toward a polluter pay approach. The wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels act lays out a comprehensive legislative approach to addressing wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels, from small pleasure crafts to large commercial ships, both foreign and domestic, in Canadian waters. In short, this bill would take us a big step toward ensuring the situation faced by the Town of Shelburne with the Farley Mowat is not repeated anywhere else in the country. Under our existing laws, the only two scenarios under which the government has the authority to take action on vessels are when a navigable waterway is obstructed or when the vessels present a pollution threat to the marine environment. That is it.
Our government knows that the majority of vessel owners are responsible vessel owners. In some cases, however, owners do not have the money to maintain, store, or dispose of their vessels. It is also not uncommon for individuals to take possession of a vessel thinking it has more residual value than it actually does, leaving them with an expensive piece of scrap. This bill would help us address the minority of owners in these kinds situations, as well as those who fail to properly care for and dispose of their vessels, so we can prevent them from becoming threats to our environment, local economies, and public health and safety.
Abandonment is seen by some as a low-cost means to deal with an unwanted vessel or the consequences of a wreck. It often comes as a shock to many Canadians to learn we have no laws to prevent this behaviour today. It is not illegal to abandon a vessel. I cannot emphasize that enough. Think about this: under the law, one cannot leave a transport truck at the side of the road, but one can leave a maritime vessel to rot at docks, beaches, or in harbours.
It is estimated there are hundreds of problem vessels in waterways all across the country. As some communities have learned first-hand, it can cost millions to clean up large vessels or wrecks. While these vessels pose particular risks to our coastal and shoreline communities, they are a cost to all Canadians. Taxpayers simply cannot continue to subsidize vessel owners whose irresponsible actions leave Canadians with a hefty cleanup bill. Costs to deal with these problem vessels are high, especially because we lack the authorities to proactively deal with them.
If we could intervene earlier, remedial costs would be less expensive compared to having to respond after an incident occurs. That is why Bill is so important. It would fill the voids I have just described by broadening the scope of hazards to include risks to the environment, the local economy, health and safety, and infrastructure. This would allow us to address risks beyond pollution threats or obstructions to navigation in order to better protect coastal and shoreline communities, the environment, and infrastructure, while placing liability squarely on the vessels owners so as to reduce the burden on taxpayers. In our historic oceans protection plan, our government committed to developing legislation to help prevent the problem of abandoned and wrecked vessels from happening and to take corrective action, at the expense of the vessel owners, if removal and disposal of a vessel is required.
One of the key aspects of this bill is that it would require large vessels to carry insurance or other financial security to cover costs related to the removal of a hazardous wreck. This is one of the proactive measures that would be taken to ensure that in the event of a vessel becoming a problem due to negligence, there is a measure already in place to protect communities and taxpayers from long-term financial damage. This proposed legislation would also provide ministerial powers to order an owner to remove and dispose of a dilapidated vessel left in the water or on any federal crown property without consent, such as a federally owned small craft harbour. It would also empower the federal government to determine whether a vessel or wreck poses, or may pose, a hazard. This would be done in collaboration with local communities and other stakeholders. Upon determination that a vessel or a wreck is hazardous, the government would have significantly more authority to take measures to address the situation than it does currently.
With new strict penalties for non-compliance, Bill would introduce new deterrents, helping to prevent problem vessels from endangering our waterways, costing taxpayers, and burdening our local communities. The effectiveness of this proposed legislation in holding vessel owners to account relies on the ability to identify them. That is why our government is taking action to strengthen vessel licensing systems so that Canadians can be confident in our ability to address any problems that arise.
In addition, we are working with our partners to address the costs of problem vessels over the longer term. This includes exploring options to ensure that future cleanup costs are addressed by way of vessel owner-financed funds modelled on domestic and international polluter pays approaches. These combined initiatives would reduce the burden on taxpayers while also enhancing protection of the environment, restoring trust for local communities, and ensuring the safety of the general public.
I was pleased to sit in on the meetings of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities during the study of this legislation, and I was pleased to see that all parties are in agreement that the time has come for the government to address the plague of coastal communities that are abandoned vessels. I ask all members of the House to support this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, my Atlantic colleague across the way has been a real partner coast to coast in pushing for abandoned vessel solutions.
We are debating the report stage amendment, which would close the loophole that, right now, means that government-owned vessels are not subject to the penalties and fines proposed in this legislation. I want to take my colleague back to some of the conversations at committee.
It was the member for who said, “I think this legislation covers government vessels, therefore, they're not allowed to become derelicts. Is that not boiling it down to the basic...? This legislation says you can't have an abandoned, derelict, or dilapidated vessel, so therefore the government could not have that. Is that not correct?” The Transport Canada representative said, “This legislation does not cover government vessels.” This is exactly the fix that I am proposing today, so I am very much hoping for my colleague's support, a yes vote, to this amendment, because it would close the loophole that the member for South Shore—St. Margarets identified.
There were also witnesses who talked about vessels in her riding specifically, and I visited some of them last summer. The Farley Mowat, the HMCS Fraser, and HMCS Cormorant were all government assets that were abandoned in her riding. David Mitchell, the mayor of Bridgewater, said in his testimony to the committee, “Yes. I think that does make sense....in order to bring the ship up. If you're going to divest yourself of a ship, as a government, you should make sure that the person who takes on that responsibility can.”
I want to know from my colleague whether she is going to support my amendment, which would close the loophole and fix the problem that she identified in committee.
Mr. Speaker, I want to start by echoing words that we just heard from the hon. member for . He used the word “admiration” in reference to the member for . Of course I want to shout out as well to the member for . This truly is a coast-to-coast-to-coast problem, and it is lovely to see people working together on such an important issue. I live in a coastal community and I will have something to say about that in a moment.
The member for has been absolutely admirable, to use the member's words, in bringing this to the attention of government and in pushing this forward. We have had this issue, since at least 2005, on the front burner in our part of the world and, I am sure, longer in Atlantic Canada. Thankfully, we seem to be getting somewhere with it. I say, “somewhere”, and I indicate from the outset that we will be supporting Bill . The amendment that my colleague has brought forward is something I would need to address as well because, while we support this bill, there is a real missed opportunity on so many bases here that it needs to be addressed in that spirit.
It never was brought to my attention, until quite recently, just how enormous this problem and challenge is. There are thousands of vessels, that is from the Canadian Coast Guard, that are derelict or abandoned from coast to coast. I have seen first-hand in my riding what that means. I have been with John Roe and gone through Cadboro Bay and again through the Selkirk Trestle area of the Inner Harbour of Victoria, and seen boats just sitting there, oozing pollution into the waterways; abandoned, in some cases, for years. For some reason, there seems to be this inertia, this inability to deal with an imminent danger that these boats have caused. Finally we have some tools that are on the table for our consideration.
One day, I had the opportunity to go with John Roe, who is the head of the Dead Boats Society, an admirably named organization, and, as well, the Veins of Life Watershed Society. He has been doing enormous work. He was appointed by the current government in a past life as a member of the chief review officer's people who do appeals under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. I got to know Mr. Roe and I admire him. His tenacity resembles that of the hon. member for . They are quite a team.
I had the opportunity to go and see these boats one day. Because the government was doing nothing, citizens in the community stood up and, on their own, at great risk in terms of potential liability, took action in Cadboro Bay. I had the opportunity to go out one day with Mr. Roe; with Mr. Eric Dahli, who is the head of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association; with Ian Hinkle; and with Commodore Wilkinson of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. I am very proud of the Ralmax Group of Companies, which donated its equipment and its people. Here were citizens on the beach, taking direct action to deal with this hazard, when the government would not come to the table and do anything after years of asking. I really salute the people with that spirit that has made Canada great, actually getting involved, getting their hands wet and dirty, and trying to deal with this problem. I had an opportunity to get a sense of what it means and that was just one of the many communities around Canada. Hence the bill and hence the need to address this. I want to start by saying that this problem is enormous.
Second, there is an enormous backlog of thousands of abandoned vessels that are polluting our waters. Just how is this particular bill addressing that backlog? There seems to be no effort, to do what the hon. member for advocated in her private member's bill, to pilot some sort of turn-in program to safe recycling facilities, so we could deal with these issues. If there were a registration fee for boats, as in Washington state and other jurisdictions like Oregon, and elsewhere in Europe, that could fund the program.
The government likes to talk about how much this is costing, and it has made a pitifully small financial contribution. It should not have to spend money at all. In the long run, as the economists would say, the cost should be internalized to the people who created the problem in the first place.
If I buy a boat, I should pay a fee. There should be a disposal charge, as we do with so many other consumer products. Why the government has not reached out to the provinces to assist in this regard is really beyond me. It would save money. It would save our environment, and it would get these eyesores off our coastlines all across the country.
The government's model essentially is to fine and ultimately to use criminal sanction, penalties and offences for owners of vessels. The problem with that model is that it will be very difficult to enforce. What if we do not know who the owner is, as is often the case? The registration number is filed off. We do not know who the owner is, and the vessel has been there for many years. How are we going to use the criminal process?
The Liberals talk about imprisonment and penalties of up to $250,000 and so forth. This is the old story of legislation involving the environment. We have fabulously large fines and we pat ourselves on the back for all the great action we are taking, but here is the punchline: We never get around to enforcing that. We never put in the resources, and we do not have the political will. It is nice, and it might scare a few people into action, but it really does not address the problem.
This is the problem that my colleague from kept talking about in her private member's bill: the enormous backlog, the failure to have a vessel registration system for accountability purposes, the failure to establish a turn-in program to ensure recycling, and so forth.
I echo the words of the , who spoke earlier. She used the phrase “legislative gaps”. There are so many legislative gaps in this program that I really wish the government had addressed them.
My colleague and the NDP made a number of amendments at the transport committee, almost all of which were defeated. One of them was about the vessel turn-in program that would deal with the backlog. The amendment about a dedicated fee to help cover the cost of vessel disposal, which Washington state has, was also defeated. There was also formalizing the role of the Coast Guard. It is like that Ghostbusters movie: “Who you gonna call?” Sometimes people can call the receiver of wreck, if they know who it is. People thought it would be simpler to just call the Coast Guard, but the Liberals seem to have abandoned that. They are committed to maybe doing something down the road.
The key “emperor has no clothes” issue here, which is addressed so clearly by my colleague's amendment, would be to deal with government vessels. I listened to the debate earlier today, and I was a bit confused because some people seemed to suggest that abandoned government vessels, such as old navy boats, ferries, and the like, would somehow be covered by the bill. I could not help noticing that the director general of environmental policy for the Department of Transport testified and said, “This legislation does not cover government vessels.” I am going to believe her, and I am going to say that there is a simple fix: deleting section 5 with the exclusions at issue. Let us make sure that we have a comprehensive bill to cover government and private vessels alike.
In conclusion, this is a good start. It has taken a long time. I am pleased it is here, and I will support it. It just could have been so much better.
Mr. Speaker, the speech of my hon. colleague, the member for , pointed out with great alacrity the benefits of this bill, but also the significant gaps. I would ask him to expand on two of those areas.
First, I cannot believe that we have legislation before the House introduced by the government that does not deal with government vessels. I would like him to expand on why he thinks that would be the case.
Second, for far too long, we, not only in Canada but around the world, have effectively regarded public areas such as our air, oceans, and waterways as public dumping grounds. There has been a lot of focus recently on ocean plastics, including at the recent G7 or G6 meeting, depending on your point of view. What a terrible problem that has been, as we have simply dumped things into the ocean.
Does my hon. colleague think that we need to have stronger environmental measures that would protect our oceans, more meaningfully educate people, and prevent us from using that important eco-resource as nothing more than a dump?
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to partake in today's debate, especially since I am speaking here today as a proud coastal member of Parliament who comes from a neck of the woods just south of the riding of the member for . My riding, Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, and my colleague's riding together formed what was known as the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan.
This is a problem that coastal people have been dealing with for far too long, no matter what part of Canada they live in. Abandoned vessels not only pose threats to our environment, and in some cases threats to navigation, but they are an eyesore. They cause real harm to communities that are trying to build up an image of a sustainable community, a place tourists would want to visit.
I spent seven years working as a constituency assistant to former member of Parliament Jean Crowder in the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan. As a constituency assistant, I was often on the phone with constituents who were outraged at the runaround they were getting and the jurisdictional finger pointing. They had gone to the municipality and to the regional district. They had gone to the port authority, to the province, and to the federal government. Every one of those agencies basically pointed at someone else, saying, “It's not our problem.” All those calls and the many years of problems building up prompted Jean Crowder to take action, and I will get to that in a moment.
I want to go over a bit of the history of how my particular community has experienced this problem. Right in the heart of my riding is lovely Cowichan Bay. I hope some members in the House get a chance to visit Cowichan Bay. It is a quaint, ideal little place on the coast. It has a great history of being a big industrial area that transformed itself into this great little community, which tourists come to every year by the droves.
We have had our ordeals with abandoned vessels. I will go back to the Dominion. The Dominion was a large Japanese fish-processing ship, which was towed to Cowichan Bay in 2007. The new owner of the vessel thought that he could buy it as an investment, sell it a few years later, and make a quick buck off it. Unfortunately, the Dominion stayed in Cowichan Bay from 2007 until 2013. It was filled with a variety of hazardous substances. It was subject to vandalism. There was the constant danger, whether from high tide or strong storms, of that gigantic ship coming loose off its mooring and plowing into other ships.
We had the SS Beaver, which was in such dilapidated condition that it sank in 2014. It still rests at the bottom of Cowichan Bay.
As a result of the lack of action, last year six derelict vessels were removed by the combined efforts of private companies. These companies were sick and tired of no government authority taking responsibility or having the resources to remove them. I want to recognize Western Forest Products, Western Stevedoring, and Pacific Industrial & Marine for taking on that initiative as responsible corporate citizens of the area. It affects their livelihoods, too, and they had the means to get it done. However, it should not have come to that.
I also want to give great recognition to Lori Iannidinardo. She serves as the area director for Cowichan Bay in the Cowichan Valley Regional District. A lot of individuals have been involved in this fight over the years, but as the area director, she has had the unique position locally of bringing so many stakeholders together, along with public and community forums, and pushing for action. Lori and Jean worked together hand in glove to try to address this problem.
Now let me turn to the efforts of Jean Crowder in the 41st Parliament. She introduced Bill in 2011. She saw a way to improve her bill, and it ultimately turned into Bill , which had its opportunity for debate and a vote at second reading at the tail end of the 41st Parliament.
I will note that the Liberal Party at that time voted in favour of this bill, and among those members, there was the , the , the , and others. In fact, there are various ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and chairs of standing committees in the House today who back then supported this bill. We are happy to see Bill moving ahead, but as the member for has so clearly laid out, there are a lot of gaps that her private member's bill certainly could have filled.
I am happy to say that after years of advocacy, New Democrats and the coastal communities have really informed our work, and all that work is finally paying off. We are very proud that the action to clean up our coasts and waterways from abandoned vessels are finally under way.
I will now turn to the 42nd Parliament, the one we are in now, and the efforts of the member for . The first version of her Bill very much built on Bill , which was introduced in the previous Parliament. However, after a lot of consultation with different coastal organizations and coastal communities, she really took their feedback, which is evidence-based decision-making and evidence-informed policy-making. She incorporated their suggestions, because these are the people who are on the front lines, and introduced Bill .
One of the greatest privileges we have in this place as private members is our ability to bring forward legislation on behalf of our communities. What is really unfortunate about last year is that the Liberals denied her the ability through the procedure and House affairs committee, and then the secret ballot that we had here in the House of Commons, to effectively advocate on behalf of her constituents and various coastal organizations in this place. We know it was the Liberals, because that is where the majority of the votes are coming from, who denied her the ability to at least bring this bill forward for debate and a vote. They deemed it to be non-votable, and argued that Bill covered all the conditions. In fact, we can see that her bill was actually filling in the gaps that are very apparent in Bill .
However, New Democrats do not give up when they face set backs, and so the member for tried to work at committee. She brought forward a series of amendments to Bill to actually strengthen the bill and make it reflect the conversations that she had had. We wanted to implement a vessel turn-in program, create a dedicated fee to help the cost of vessel disposal, and we wanted to formalize the Coast Guard's role. The Coast Guard's main role is to guard our coast, but I would argue it is not only to guard against smugglers but also to make sure that our coastal environment is safe, sound, and environmentally secure. She tried to make sure that we could copy Washington state's model, because we do not need to reinvent the wheel. We have many other jurisdictions, one right in Washington state, and we could basically borrow the best elements from its program and transpose them here in Canada. She also wanted to try and give the receiver of wrecks the responsibility and accountability to determine the owner.
Every single one of those amendments was defeated by the Liberals in spite of all of the testimony that we had heard at committee. That is the real shame of this. The Liberals in the previous Parliament were fine to go along with the provisions that were included in this bill, but once they got into government, and flying in the face of the evidence they heard, they refused to go ahead with that.
The bill from the member for was endorsed by the Union of B.C. Municipalities, the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities, the City of Victoria, the City of Nanaimo, the Town of Ladysmith, over 20 more local governments, the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, Vancouver District Labour Council, and the BC Ferry & Marine Workers' Union. These are organizations and local governments that deal with this problem and confront it on a daily basis. To have those kinds of endorsements behind the member for really speaks to her perseverance, and it is sincerely unfortunate that the government did not allow those.
I will conclude by saying that we are not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We will support Bill , but I hope the government will at least listen to us and accept our amendment at report stage so that we can at least have some accountability for federally owned vessels, because that is a major loophole that exists.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill , which addresses the issue of the thousands of wrecks littering Canada. I want to commend my colleague from for all the work she has done. She has been working for years to stop the abandonment of wrecks on our coasts and to help free coastal communities from the burden of dealing with wrecks.
My colleague proposed several amendments in committee. She originally had a private member's bill that targeted all wrecks. Her parliamentary privilege to debate Bill was denied by the Liberal government, which forced her to go through the special process of a secret ballot vote. Each member got to deposit a ballot in a box at the back of the House of Commons to decide whether my colleague would be allowed to debate her bill. The outcome, as anyone could guess, given the government's majority, was that she was blocked from speaking on her own bill. The government simply refused to grant her time to debate the bill in the House, on the pretext that the government's bill covered all the same ground as her own. However, the two bills could have been complementary, as I will explain today.
My B.C. colleague's bill addressed a number of issues. Now, at report stage, she is moving an amendment that reads as follows: “That Bill C-64 be amended by deleting Clause 5”.
This amendment would remove the exemption for state-owned ships. Bill does not currently apply to state property.
We want all vessels owned by the government, by all the departments, including military vessels and other assets belonging to the Canadian Coast Guard, to be governed by this bill. The fact that they are not is ridiculous. Washington State has similar legislation that includes abandoned state-owned vessels.
We hope the government will support the amendment moved by my colleague from .
I rise in the House today because the Kathryn Spirit ran aground in Lake Saint-Louis, a drinking water reservoir, seven years ago, and the people of Beauharnois and the greater Montreal area have been trying to get something done about it ever since.
Groupe Saint-Pierre, a private company, acquired the vessel and towed it to the shores of Lake Saint-Louis at Beauharnois to dismantle it and sell the scrap metal. The people of Beauharnois and the mayor at the time were extremely concerned about that.
The current mayor continues to work to ensure that the ship is dismantled by the end of the year. Seven years later, we are beginning to feel some relief, but as long as the ship is still there then we are no further ahead.
Managing this ship has been very complicated from the start. It was not clear who to talk to about it. We had to juggle between Environment Canada, Transport Canada, and the Canadian Coast Guard under Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Every department under the Conservative government at the time passed the buck. In 2015, the Liberals took over the government, but it is still the same story, six of one and half a dozen of the other. The two successive governments were unable to grab the bull by the horns to ensure the safety of the drinking water reservoir. The population was scared because for the seven years that the ship has been there, there have been a number of freeze-thaw cycles. The ship has taken on some water through the pipes and as a result of being trapped in the ice over the winter.
What is more, there have a number of alarming situations that required last-minute interventions to patch up the ship to ensure that the water in the ballasts did not infiltrate the engine room, which contains oil. We asked many times for the list of pollutants remaining on the ship and up until very recently we still did not have it. Even the fire department of Beauharnois, Châteauguay, and surrounding areas still did not have that list on April 10, 2018, when a fire broke out and six fire departments were called to deal with it. Though somewhat ironic, it is mostly very stressful for all those who live near this wreck.
The bill before us does not meet all of the demands of Beauharnois and the surrounding coastal municipalities. That is why the NDP has been fighting for years to get a bill that better manages shipwrecks.
This bill is definitely a step in the right direction, but there are still some problems that need to be addressed, particularly the backlog of thousands of wrecks abandoned off Canada's coastlines. On top of that, the bill fails to introduce a vessel registration system for accountability, nor does it establish a vessel turn-in and recycling program. I was very proud to support Bill introduced by my colleague from , which fills the gaps in the government legislation.
Getting back to the Kathryn Spirit, Groupe St-Pierre moved the vessel to the banks of Lac Saint-Louis in August 2011. Since the provincial and federal governments never authorized the company to dismantle the ship on the water for environmental reasons, it was never able to move forward, so it sold the wreck to a Mexican company a few months later.
Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada kept passing the buck back and forth between 2012 and 2015. The ministers responsible just wanted to wash their hands of the problem. Despite our repeated calls, the Mexican company was unable to answer our questions. There was a language barrier as well as the time difference. It eventually stopped answering our questions and our calls altogether.
Then there was dithering and continual delays in obtaining answers from the Ministers of Transport Canada and Environment Canada concerning hazardous substances still on board. It was never-ending. It took years to get answers even though such access to information requests usually take about two months. Then we asked that there be only one party responsible, the Canadian Coast Guard, but the Liberals refused.
Ultimately, we want to know the location and condition of all such ships in Canada. That is why we are asking that registration errors be corrected and, as my colleague proposed at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, that the administration do more than just the bare minimum. Companies must fully respect the law and its spirit to ensure the protection of citizens, waters, and our environment.
In the case of the Kathryn Spirit, the lack of registration prevented us from having clear information about the Mexican company that had taken over the vessel. A minimum of information was enough to have senior officials say that the vessel had not been abandoned and that the company was still responsible for it. This matter was bungled from start to finish.
In 2013, it seemed that contaminants were discharged and citizens were worried. In the end, it was a real shemozzle and the government said that most of the fuel had been removed. In 2016, the vessel was listing and cables were added. The government is taking a wait-and-see approach in this matter.
The government took action when there was a fire and finally realized that there had never been a response plan, even though the government had offered $24 million to the private company working on the boat. There were a number of shortcomings.
The bill does not allocate enough money to manage a single vessel like the Kathryn Spirit. The government is allocating $1.25 million over four years, which is completely ridiculous.
I hope that the government will review this bill and accept amendments, including the one proposed today by my colleague from , in order to get this right and manage abandoned vessels in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, there are indeed some gaps. We still do not know who owns these vessels because they are no longer registered. This is why my colleague from presented a number of amendments to complement the Liberal bill.
My colleague proposed amendments intended to make governments more accountable; adopt the Washington State model, which would change the wait time for communities from two years to 90 days; set fees to help cover the cost of dismantling the vessels, like in Washington, where owners are required to pay to dismantle the vessels; and free taxpayers from this financial burden. Essentially, we should enforce the polluter pays principle.
The owners of the Kathryn Spirit have never been found. Groupe St-Pierre is the one that brought the Kathryn Spirit to the shores of Beauharnois, but it is not responsible for the wreck. On the contrary, Groupe St-Pierre is being given $20 million in taxpayers' money to continue to dismantle the ship, when it is the one who brought it to Beauharnois to get rid of it. Nevertheless, Groupe St-Pierre was awarded two successive contracts through a tendering process. Actually, one of the contracts was awarded to the company without a tendering process. Then, coincidentally, Groupe St-Pierre and a consortium were offered the dismantling project following a tendering process. This whole story is completely ridiculous from beginning to end.
We are at the point where we just want these wrecks gone without any negative impact on drinking water. Obviously, the government has fallen short when it comes to the administration and financial management of projects to ensure that these ships are recycled responsibly.
Mr. Speaker, it is a huge honour today to rise to speak to Bill , an act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations.
Before I get started, I have to give a huge shout-out and thanks to my colleague from for her perseverance and commitment to this issue. Before she was in the House, she was the chair of the Islands Trust. She brought communities together on this issue, because it is so important. She followed the great work of Jean Crowder, who represented the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan. These are Vancouver Islanders who understand these issues from the grassroots. They understand the impact abandoned and derelict vessels have on our coastal waters and the impact they have on the local economy, ecology, and way of life. I appreciate their efforts.
In my riding, there has been much support for Bill put forward by my colleague from . Qualicum Beach and Parksville have been very strong advocates for this bill, as has the Regional District of Nanaimo.
There was an incredible accident in our riding in Deep Bay. Three boats had been listing for over a decade. They were abandoned derelict vessels. The former member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North, a Conservative colleague, promised for 10 years to remove those vessels, but they sat there right through until the 2015 election. That same member voted against the bill Ms. Crowder put forward in the last Parliament. He said that he wanted more of a Washington state model. He was the party whip for the Conservative government and a previous cabinet minister, so he could have asked his government to pursue legislation based on the Washington state model. Ms. Crowder would have welcomed an amendment to support that model, because we know it works. He sat idle.
A boat sank, and when the divers went down, they found two more boats at the bottom. The communities desperately wanted the Silver King and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier removed, because they were threatening 60 jobs adjacent to that listing boat. They were threatening the Deep Bay Marine Field Station of Vancouver Island University, which has a centre for shellfish research they have invested $9 million in. We raised this concern with the federal government, and the Liberals sat idle, despite major storms going through.
We then decided to collectively come together: me; the MLA; Chief Recalma, of Qualicum First Nation; Bill Veenhof, from the Regional District of Nanaimo; and the adjacent shellfish company that was going to be immediately impacted. In fact, it would have been shut down for a year if any of the bunker fuel had been released from those derelict and abandoned boats, and the VIU research facility would have been shut down.
We decided to collectively come together with community members and go out on a boat and invite the media. I want to thank CHEK 6 news, CTV News Vancouver Island, and the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, because they came out, and it was their reporting that made the difference, with our community standing in solidarity. The former minister of fisheries and oceans, my friend from , responded at that point, when he saw the pressure, and the Silver King was removed. The Liberals were still hesitant to deal with the Sir Wilfrid Laurier. This boat was a previous crown asset.
Again, my colleague from put forward amendments to strengthen the bill to protect our coasts. One of the amendments was to prevent crown assets and assets seized and resold by the government from becoming abandoned vessels by legislating terms and conditions of sale and disposal. It sounds reasonable, but the Liberals rejected it.
On the B.C. coast, there are abandoned vessels from all over the place that still bear a government logo, whether they are from BC Ferries or the Coast Guard, such as the Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The Atlantic coast has a number of people with great intentions who are still purchasing surplus navy vessels, but they become great liabilities. The communities of Shelburne and Bridgewater wanted those conditions in the bill as well, and they were rejected. We raised awareness about the Silver King and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and we are grateful that the government responded at that point. I want to thank it for that, but it took a lot of pressure.
This could have been avoided. We could not even figure out who was responsible, because in this bill, the government still had not identified the Coast Guard as the sole receiver of wrecks. We were running around speaking to the and the , the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Environment Canada. We were getting turned around, and no one was taking responsibility. That still has not been resolved in this legislation.
I will turn to some of the opportunities. When I was first elected, my colleagues from Vancouver Island and I banded together and went to the and asked that BC Ferries be eligible for the Building Canada fund, because under the previous Conservative government, it was not eligible. BC Ferries made that loud and clear. Despite the Conservative member from Vancouver Island North saying that it was eligible, it had been rejected on every application, because, it was told, it was not eligible.
We were grateful to the for changing the requirements and allowing BC Ferries to be eligible for the Building Canada fund. That has resulted in $62 million for BC Ferries, which Mark Collins, the CEO, told me when I ran into him in Vancouver. He was so grateful. He told me that he wanted to come to our riding and listen to my thoughts and concerns with respect to BC Ferries and the way he can support our communities. He also wanted to express his gratitude for our going to Ottawa and working with the government to create the eligibility that has supported all ferry users in British Columbia.
While he was there, I was able to talk to him and showcase Port Alberni and the Alberni Valley as a great opportunity for the BC Ferries experience program so that they can promote each other and work collectively to support the tourism economy.
We also talked about the incredible opportunity we have as the deepest port on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which is heavily underutilized. He clearly expressed to me that shipyards are coming close to capacity and that he wants to find ways we can work together. He wrote a letter of support after visiting the port. He wrote:
|| BC Ferries is planning to invest $3.5 - $4 billion over the next 12 years in infrastructure and new vessels in addition to our anticipated $150 million annual spend on ship repair. The biggest constraint we face supporting our fleet is the scarcity of dry docking in British Columbia. Currently, two-thirds of our fleet of 35 vessels can be docked at just two facilities. Those facilities are busy and the opportunity for increased dry dock capacity in BC will be of great interest to BC Ferries and other coastal marine customers.
He supports the Port Alberni Port Authority and its hope for a new floating dry dock. The reason I bring that up is that it is an economic opportunity for people on the west coast to create more shipbuilding and maybe a place where we can work with abandoned and derelict boats. We would like to see the government work with all levels of government, the federal government and the federal Liberals, so that we can create those jobs and support a dry dock in our community.
After years of advocacy, the New Democrats are proud that our pressure is finally paying off and that we are seeing some movement on this bill, although it misses the mark on many things. It does not support a vessel turn-in program modelled on the cash-for-clunkers program for vehicles, which has been successful in many provinces. Without a turn-in program, we will not be able to deal with the backlog, which is hundreds of boats. We could create a dedicated fee to help cover the cost of vessel disposal, based on the Washington state model, which is an owner-financed fund dedicated to vessel removal that successfully took the costs off taxpayers, which is what we want.
Where I live, it is clear that most of these abandoned derelict vessels cannot be traced back. We do not know who the owners are. They change hands repeatedly. There is a housing issue where we live, and many people are living on derelict boats, in terrible conditions. These boats are being sold within the community, and people do not know who owns these boats. They live on them literally until they sink. We do not want to see a situation like in Deep Bay, where a boat is listing and threatening the environment and the local economy, and then when it does sink and we go to the bottom, we find three more.