‘It’s a free for all’: Derelict sailboat latest to raise ire of False Creek residents

A resident of Vancouver’s False Creek is speaking out about derelict vessels after he says a sailboat washed up and was targeted by scavengers.

Ken Newbert said the boat washed up in an inlet between Habitat Island and Hinge Park early last week and quickly became a source of trash on the shoreline.

“At low tide, it’s totally exposed, you can walk completely around the boat … people had pulled out all the junk, and it was junk, that was in the boat,” he said.

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“It was old cushions and tarps and big fiberglass tubs, just crap. I don’t think there was anything salvageable.”

Newbert’s wife complained to the city, and shortly afterward the debris on shore was collected, he said.

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But on Saturday, the apparently abandoned boat remained in place, with a notice taped to it saying Vancouver police and federal officials were aware of it and that “steps are being taken to address the problem.”

Cleanup of derelict boats is officially the responsibility of the vessel’s owner, but in many cases identifying that person can be a problem. Transport Canada can act if the vessel is obstructing navigation, and the Canadian Coast Guard is responsible in cases of safety or environmental risks.

Click to play video: 'Dozens of derelict boats in False Creek'

Dozens of derelict boats in False Creek

Dozens of derelict boats in False Creek – Dec 9, 2021

Newbert said the derelict sailboat was just the latest case of what he called lax enforcement of anchorage regulations in False Creek.

“As far as I can tell, it’s a free for all. They just pull in and park. There’s even been guys at the far side by science world, they pull up, tie up, and I think they use shore power,” he said.

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“I’m not against the boat people. I’m against the people that think they have the right to pull in here, live on their boats, dump all their crap in the water, and not pay any taxes. I object to that.”

Under Vancouver bylaws, vessel operators can get a free two-to-three-week permit (depending on the season).

But residents, paddlers and some members of the boating community alleviate some vessel operators are blurting those bylaws by staying longer, dumping waste or anchoring in the off-limits “navigable channel” of the waterway.

The City of Vancouver referred Global News to the Canadian Coast Guard for details about the derelict sailboat. Global News has requested comment from the Coast Guard.

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But with regards to the issue of scofflaw boaters, the city acknowledged it was an “ongoing problem not just in False Creek but across the region and province.”

In Vancouver, that problem is complicated, the City said, by the fact False Creek is a shared jurisdiction between municipal, provincial and federal authorities.

“The City is very much aware of the issue of illegally moored and derelict vessels in False Creek and is working with its provincial, federal and municipal partners (VPD, Park Board) on exploring new regulatory tools to manage what is a complex issue shared by all these jurisdictions,” it said in a statement.

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Newbert said he doesn’t care who is responsible for enforcement, so long as the job gets done.

“We really don’t like it. The odd boat parking there for a night or two, that’s nice,” he said. “But there’s boats there I’m not even sure that can move.”

— With files from Paul Johnson

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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