Strong Support for NDP MP’s Abandoned Vessels Bill at Cowichan Bay Town Hall

An abandoned vessels town hall drew dozens of concerned residents to the OceanFront Suites at Cowichan Bay on Friday evening, eager to talk about solutions to the problem that has been plaguing coastal communities for decades.

NDP MPs Alistair MacGregor (Malahat—Cowichan—Langford) and Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo—Ladysmith) hosted the community discussion about protecting Canada’s coasts from the environmental threats and navigational hazards posed by abandoned vessels.

The town hall was facilitated by Cowichan Valley Regional District Director Lori Iannidinardo, who has worked extensively on the issue of abandoned vessels. It featured presentations by MacGregor, Malcolmson, and Brian Thacker, owner of Pacific Industrial & Marine Ltd. Thacker was part of a group of local residents who banded together to remove six abandoned vessels from Cowichan Bay, after receiving no support from the federal government.

“Hopefully the federal government will become more aware of this problem and take action,” said Thacker.

“Community, government, and industry allies clearly agree it’s time to end the finger pointing and set clear direction for the cleanup and removal of abandoned vessels,” said Malcolmson. “It was fantastic to see so much support for my legislation, Bill C-352, to clean up abandoned vessels and take the burden off coastal communities like Cowichan Bay,” said Malcolmson.

“Cowichan Bay is just one of hundreds of communities struggling with this issue,” said MacGregor. “We don't want community action like we saw here in Cowichan Bay to become the substitute for strong federal action. Far too often, taxpayers are left holding the bag for the clean-up costs, which is why we need a concrete legislative solution like Bill C-352.”

Bill C-352 will fix vessel registration, pilot a vessel turn-in program, create good green jobs by supporting local marine salvage businesses and vessel recycling, and make Coast Guard responsible for directing the removal of abandoned vessels. Support is growing across the country, with endorsements rolling in from coastal communities stretching from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland.