For the last few days I’ve been fuming over an article I read recently in The Globe and Mail regarding live aboard boaters who are being systematically “kicked out” of their marinas by the Town of Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island. They are citing run down derelict boats, a fight on a dock, and sewage as the issues. They say they want to “clean up the harbour”. The article also goes on to mention that the above seems to be a trend in B.C. coast communities.
Living in a boat, on the water is a viable life style. The vast, vast majority of live aboard boaters are very responsible, middle class people who have good jobs, or are retired as is the case with my wife and I. We have live aboard friends who are builders, a crane operator, 4 who before they retired had very high careers within health care, a former VP of the port of Vancouver, federal government employees, and 2 computer engineers. All of us take great and loving care of our boats. We pay our taxes through our moorage (as a condo renter does through their rent). The marina where we lived in Vancouver prior to moving to Vancouver Island had a large percentage of live aboards, and was known as the safest and most secure of all the marinas in the Lower Mainland, because of the live aboards presence. Sewage is an issue however. Virtually all live aboard boaters would be more than happy to pay extra for moorage if pump out facilities were reasonably available. In Burrard Inlet there is one in Deep Cove, and one in Port Moody. To be fair, there is also one in False Creek. That is three facilities servicing all of the boats in Burrard Inlet and False Creek. We live in Campbell River, where there is one, two marinas away. In other words, facilities are very few and far between, so don’t blame the boaters. This is a very easy fix however. Municipalities could require “all” marinas to have a portable pump out unit on hand (they are on wheels and can be moved easily on a dock). They cost +-$1000.00 and with a nominal charge for dumping they would pay for themselves and their maintenance. The reduction of derelict boats would also be an easy fix. Municipalities could require all marinas to insist that all boaters (not just live aboards) to produce a valid insurance coverage document annually.
The coast of B.C. is both beautiful and unique. As some people love to live only in houses, in condo’s, on farms, in motor homes, some of us love to live on the water. It is a life style, no more. I simply do not understand what the fuss is all about. Just because one sees a derelict boat now and then does not mean that “we” are “all” bums. How often do municipalities force home owners or renters out of their homes for a fight or garbage in the front yards? I believe British Columbians would be shocked to know just how much raw sewage is continuously dumped into our water ways by municipalities. I cite Victoria as an example, where all, yes all of their raw and untreated sewage is dumped into The Strait of Juan de Fuca, all the time, every day.