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Officials seek help in finding owner of boat washed ashore

Another boat has washed ashore on Gyro Beach and Saanich municipal officials are asking the owner or anyone who knows the owner to come forward.
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The Nirmala is thought to have been pushed onto Gyro Beach by strong winds.

Another boat has washed ashore on Gyro Beach and Saanich municipal officials are asking the owner or anyone who knows the owner to come forward.

The latest boat, a white-hulled sailboat with blue trim named Nirmala, serial number BC 766745, washed ashore last week.

Doug Henderson, director of Saanich parks and recreation, said the latest vessel was likely anchored, untended in Cadboro Bay and pushed ashore by high winds. “People just assume they can come in, drop anchor and that will be it,” Henderson said. “Sometimes these anchors are not secure and that’s been the case lately.”

This winter, Saanich, which is responsible for Gyro Park, has been saddled with the burden of removing abandoned boats washing up on the beach. It has spent about $50,000 cleaning up derelict craft, up from 2015 when it spent about $25,000.

Last month, the municipality spent about $20,000 to smash up a concrete boat and haul it away. A previous vessel was also taken away after it washed ashore spilling fuel, garbage and hypodermic needles onto the sand.

It has long been unclear as to who has the proper responsibility when boat owners abandon their craft.

Neither the federal government, responsible for navigable waterways, nor the provincial government, responsible for the near shore, has stepped up.

Victoria has also been experiencing a problem with derelict boats moored in the Gorge Waterway. Some have become slum housing. The city is considering zoning changes to the Gorge Waterway to allow it to remove the boats.

Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff recently suggested municipalities in B.C. press for the creation of a special fund to pay for the removal of abandoned boats.

The fund would be financed with fees or surcharges levied when vessels are purchased, sold, registered, insured or moored. Municipalities would apply for assistance from the fund to pay for the disposal of derelict vessels.

Saanich councillors unanimously approved Brownoff’s idea last month and will take it to groups such as the B.C. Union of Municipalities to press senior governments.

Anyone who recognizes the Nirmala can contact Saanich municipality at 250-475-5575.

rwatts@timescolonist.com