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Campaigns continue against derelict boats in B.C. waters

Langley’s riverfront is partially under Port Authority jurisdiction
On Vancouver Island, the Dead Boat Disposal Society works with a company operated by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations to remove derelict boats from local waterways. (contributed)

Boating B.C. is joining the drive to get derelict boats cleaned up from the province’s shorelines and waterways, including along the Fraser River.

According to the organization, there are 2.3 million boats on the water in Canada, and a good number of those are in B.C.

“Over the past few decades, the province has seen an unfortunate side effect of our robust boating community; each year vessels are abandoned and left to grow old on moorages, in marinas and along our beaches and coastlines,” said Bruce Hayne, executive director of Boating B.C.

Abandoned boats can be serious safety and environmental risks, with the possibility of leaking fuel and other toxins into marine ecosystems, Hayne said.

Boating B.C. is running a province-wide awareness campaign with funding from Transport Canada.

It’s the latest part of a multi-pronged push from various federal and provincial agencies to clean up derelict and abandoned boats. It’s created a registry of boat disposal resources around the province, which can be found on its website at

The federal government announced this summer that it was putting more money into removing derelict and abandoned boats from Canada’s coastlines. The B.C. boats involved in the project were on the coasts and shorelines of Vancouver Island.

READ MORE: Feds doling out $1.5 million for removal of 18 derelict boats from B.C., Atlantic coasts

But the Fraser River has also seen derelict vessels over the years.

In 2020 the Canadian Coast Guard announced they were removing the MV Spudnik from the Fraser River in Surrey. The boat had been moored by the shore in the same place for six years by the time it was judged to be a risk due to “pollution threat, hull corrosion, possible sinking and fire,” according to the federal announcement of its removal.

According to a Township spokesperson, the municipality does not have bylaws to regulate boat storage, derelict or otherwise, along the Fraser River. The Township pointed to the Vancouver Port Authority and RCMP as the agencies that would deal with such issues..

But almost two decades ago, the Township sued Gerald Tapp, winning a judgement including a requirement that he remove abandoned barges along the river.

Tapp was well known for also owning the former Queen of Sidney ferry, which he stored on the north side of the river near Mission. The ferry and six other boats berthed at the site were considered a potential hazard if they were swept away in high water, and in 2012 the province stepped in to secure them.

The Vancouver Port Authority, which has also launched programs in recent years to deal with derelicts, has authority over the Fraser River up to the mouth of Maple Ridge’s Kanaka Creek – which is just across the river from Langley’s Derby Reach Regional Park.

The eastern part of the river, including the area around Fort Langley and Glen Valley, is beyond Port Authority jurisdiction.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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