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Federal government provides funds to remove abandoned boats in Steveston

There are currently five abandoned vessels left at Steveston Harbour
Coun. Harold Steves (right) is showing Minister Marc Garneau (middle) one of the boats moored on the harbour that no one claims ownership. Daisy Xiong photo

The Minister of Transport in the Government of Canada, Marc Garneau, was down at Steveston Harbour Wednesday morning, to announce federal funding to remove abandoned boats that have troubled communities such as Steveston.

“I’m pleased to announce today we are providing more than $190,000 to deal with a number of abandoned boats in four provinces across Canada,” said Garneau at a press conference.

This funding will be spent on the removal of 10 abandoned boats in B.C. – including some at Steveston Harbour – and 10 in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The funding will also be provided to gain legal possession of 11 vessels in the four provinces, “with the goal of removing them in the future,” according to the minister.

“Abandoned wreck boats are a growing problem across Canada,” said Garneau.

“There have been abandoned vessels right here in (Steveston) harbour that take up space, that can represent a pollution problem, a navigation problem and often just an eyesore.”

He added that the government is presently doing an inventory to find out exactly how many vessels have been abandoned, “maybe in thousands.”

Coun. Harold Steves, who is on the Steveston Harbour board, said the funding is “a real boost” for the harbour, which is under redevelopment.

“(The funding) is big, because just getting rid of one boat is expensive,” said Steves.

“When you try to build a new harbour and redevelop your harbour, you don’t want to waste your money getting rid of all wrecks…now the federal government is going to get rid of the boats for us.”

Steveston Harbour have removed six abandoned boats by itself from its docks in the past – three were run around or submerged along Steveston Island, according to Steves. And there are five left.

The harbour has written letters to the minister, and have been campaigning for the funding for years, along with other harbours on the coast.

“We find what people do is, they don’t just abandon the boats somewhere along the shore, they simply come to the harbour and pay the monthly rent and then they disappear,” said Steves while showing one of the boats moored on the harbour that no one claims ownership.

Garneau added that the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, introduced in Parliament in 2017, will make abandoning vessels illegal “once it’s passed.”