by Sue Stroud, citizen reporter
The District of Central Saanich recently decided to apply for a License of Occupation to control what it sees as pollution and a proliferation of boats and derelicts in Brentwood Bay. The License would give the District the right to police the Bay or to hire a contractor to do so on its behalf. “The proposed use will be managed by the District of Central Saanich and will help to meet local moorage requirements in a manner that minimizes the impact of vessel moorings on the environment, commercial navigation, First Nations and recreational users of the waters of Brentwood Bay.” (From the Proposed Management Plan for a Nominal Rent Tenure for Transient and Liveaboard Moorage in Brentwood Bay.)
To this end a number of meetings were held where a select group of citizen representatives were invited to help develop a plan for managing the Bay which is a necessary step toward the granting of the Licence by the province.
The live-aboards and boaters of the Bay felt they were not appropriately or systematically contacted. Some only discovered the meetings in November after they had been underway for several months. Since then there have been three committee meetings and two Council meetings (one Committee of the whole and one Regular Council) at which the boaters have been presenting their case.
As concern grew boaters met several times themselves to analyze the situation, share their experiences and develop a response to the original suggestions made by the District which created fear that costly moorings ($3,000 each) would be expropriated and boaters would have to pay high fees to rent space at a limited number of District installed moorings. The District plan showed just 40 moorings in deep water and dangerously exposed to storms. It also included a dogleg channel that was later straightened at the request of the boaters.
“The 40 moorings retained will apparently remain privately owned by the boaters even though they will be charged between $100 and $200 per month by the municipality to use them, basically to cover costs that may look good on paper but are not likely to bear much scrutiny.
“Boats would also require Protection and Indemnity (P&I) insurance because the municipality will be completely indemnified from any accountability. The insurance will in turn require annual haul outs for vessel surveys as well as annual mooring inspections to qualify, even though rumour has it that the coverage would only be good until it is needed at which time any claim would be denied. Annual costs of this can be expected to range from $500 to $1,500 and $100 to $250 for the survey and inspection respectively, depending on vessel size and mooring depth, and not counting hauling etc. costs,” says Geoff Krause, in a letter to Council.
“The plan also has at least 25 of those 40 moorings moving outside what many, including the local Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue station, regard as the harbour limit. These waters lie largely beyond the 30 metre contour (CHS Chart 4331) and even though there are a couple of ‘rises’, the area is not suitable for mooring. The plan envisages moving moorings, some weighing up to 4,000 – 5,000 lbs, however unrealistic that actually might be, that are currently unsuitably sited according to the plan criteria to positions that are more suitable. And this even though the water is 2-3 times as deep, more exposed to weather and much further from shore and therefore less accessible by dinghy from even a simple safety standpoint. Setting out a new 4,000 lb. mooring in 35 feet of water (at datum) will cost about $3,000, in 100’ it will be $4,000+.”
The boaters and liveaboards have been concerned for sometime that they are being unfairly blamed for the actions of a few and that the same does not apply to homes on land where one neighbour with too many cars, a messy yard or a home in disrepair doesn’t cause an entire neighbourhood to be blamed and threatened with removal.
Boaters and liveaboards see themselves as the “eyes on the water” that have rescued drifting boats, reported boats that are sinking, reported dangerous boaters, thwarted thefts and rescued paddle boarders, kayakers and others from drowning often as the result of speeding motor boats creating wakes in what should be a completely wake free zone and have called for derelicts to be removed.
”We have rescued swamped kayakers and wake boarders, cleaned up garbage and structures left behind by others, placed warning buoys to prevent collisions with rocks, used video cameras to document wrongdoers for police and made laminated signs posted at local marinas warning power boat operators of the responsibilities and penalties of dangerous operation of their vessels, all at no cost to the municipality,” says one long time livaboard, adding, ”We are self-policing.” This extensive work stands in contrast to the complaint often heard that these boaters do not pay taxes.
Another boater pointed out that she also has a house on land which she pays taxes for while also spending thousands per year at local businesses such as Slegg’s Lumber, Windsor Plywood, Sherwood Marine etc. for materials for her boat. “We represent a significant monetary value to the community for these supplies and that’s without mentioning groceries and money spent at restaurants and garages.”
Boaters all have holding tanks and insist they are not the source of any pollution there might be in the Bay. The only verifiable study of pollution in the Bay identified Hagan Creek as the source thus pointing to run-off from farmer’s fields and septic systems not boaters. Central Saanich, at a Council meeting December 18th, agreed to have water testing done to determine amounts and sources of pollution in the Bay.
These are just a few of the concerns identified by the boaters and liveaboards about the proposed management plan for the Bay.
Concern about what is going on in Central Saanich with regard to Brentwood Bay has also begun to spread up the Island as boaters fear being pushed from one bay to the next in a form of marine gentrification.
To watch the videos from the December 11th and 18th Central Saanich Council meetings click HERE.
Central Saanich is establishing a committee to advise on open moorage in the Bay. Once established, the Brentwood Bay Open Moorage Advisory Committee, is to provide advice to Council regarding the Brentwood Bay Management Plan and serve to promote and foster community awareness of the Plan. They say that they are seeking members from a cross-section of stakeholder groups.
To apply, Central Saanich asks that people review the committee’s purpose and fill out and submit an application form by Friday, January 26, 2018, at 4:30 p.m., by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in person to Central Saanich Municipal Hall, 1903 Mount Newton Cross Road. Find out more info HERE.