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Transport Canada investigating dead boats, sunken boathouse, in Pitt Meadows river

Dead Boats Removal Society optimistic about cleanup of Alouette River
The Dead Boats Removal Society took aerial drone footage of this site on the Alouette River, near Harris Road in Pitt Meadows. Transport Canada is now involved in the cleanup. (Dead Boats Removal Society/Special to The News)

There is renewed optimism that the wrecked boats, half-submerged boathouse, and decomposing docks along the Alouette River in Pitt Meadows are going to be cleaned out.

John Roe of the Dead Boats Removal Society has been working with the Transport Canada Receiver of Wrecks on the issue, and said he sees a desire to get the job done.

Roe’s group had tried to secure provincial funding to bring in a barge and floating crane to remove the mess that has been left in the river, from Harris Road to where it meets the Pitt River. When that failed, Transport Canada got involved.

READ ALSO: Dead Boats Society coming to Pitt Meadows

“The federal government is coming to the table,” said Roe, adding he hopes to see a tender issued by Transport Canada to do the work in the near future.

The issue was highlighted after a social media post by Pitt Meadows resident Robert Mullin, who expressed his anger at the sinking boathouse and abandoned boats at one site. Then the Alouette River Management Society got involved, noting there are numerous dead boats and rotted docks along that stretch of river, and they pose an environmental hazard.

“Transport Canada is aware of the vessels in the Pitt River. These vessels are being reviewed under the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act (WAHVA),” confirmed Sau Sau Liu, spokesperson for Transport Canada.

She said the act promotes the protection of the public, the environment, including coastlines and shorelines, by regulating wrecks and vessels posing hazards.

There is a process to determined who is responsible for the dead boats. Vessels are deemed abandoned if they are unattended for two years or more.

“If an owner comes forward, it is not considered abandoned and Transport Canada will not take any further action to remove or dispose of the vessel,” she added. “Rather, Transport Canada will inform the owner of their responsibilities under the WAHVA to remove or dispose of the vessel. The Government of Canada may hold the owner liable for the costs of moving or removing their vessel.”

If a boat is deemed abandoned, Transport Canada takes reasonable measures to ensure that an owner is identified, and is responsible for their vessel, before taking action to remove and dispose of it. Transport Canada has the authority to act on vessels that are abandoned or wrecked, but not for reasons such as unsightliness, she explained.

“As these vessels in question are currently undergoing a review per the WAHVA, it would be premature to provide comments on their specifics or any potential outcomes at this time,” she said. “Should any contravention of the Act be determined, Transport Canada will take the necessary actions to protect the public and the environment.”

Both Roe and Mark Caros, of the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS) see the federal involvement as a sign the mess will ultimately be cleaned up.

“It’s good news – a good day for the Alouette River,” said Caros. “So many people, for so long, have been concerned about the river.”

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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