The City of Victoria has started notifying those refusing to remove their abandoned and illegally moored boats from the Gorge Waterway that it will be taking them to court.
About 15 notices will be served to the remaining vessels still moored in the Gorge, with the owners given 21 days to respond before the city takes them to court for contravening city bylaws that limit long-term mooring to a maximum of 48 hours and no more than 72 hours in a 30-day period.
The move is the final installment of the city’s three-phase approach to remove the two dozen or so illegally moored vessels anchored in the Gorge for years.
The three phases involved education, voluntary compliance and active enforcement. During the first phase, (where notices were issued in mid-June), seven vessels were voluntarily removed, leaving 18, including between seven and nine that are used off and on for living aboard.
A second round of notices was issued in October, warning the city would begin enforcement and seek an injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court if the vessels weren’t voluntarily removed.
City clerk Chris Coates said it’s looking like the matter will now likely go to court.
“It’s certainly not what the city was hoping to have. It’s time consuming and costly, but that’s the way it’s looking right now,” said Coates, noting the city has provided outreach services to connect live-aboards with alternative housing, but so far nobody has accepted anything.
“That option is still there and the city is certainly keen to work with those living aboard to help connect them with services that are available, but it’s up to them.”
The boats have sparked several complaints about leaking sewage, oil, fuel, noise and garbage since they aren’t hooked up to proper services.
In 2013, Victoria council began floating a plan to deal with the boats, but ran into a number of hurdles. Last year, however, the city received a licence of occupation from the province and rezoned the current regulations.
Eighteen boats currently remain in the Gorge and the city has set aside up to $120,000 has for enforcement.