By Mark Squibb/October 21, 2021
An abandoned vessel has sparked debate amongst members of Spaniard’s Bay council.
A discussion about the vessel and whether it was council’s responsibility to remove it or not dominated roughly 20 minutes of Monday’s meeting.
Councilor Tony Dominix said the vessel is a danger, as onboard fuel may leak into the harbor and cause an oil slick. He said he knows someone who wanted to take the boat out either for scrap or to sell, but it would have been too costly.
CAO Tony Ryan said that government may be able to assist the town with the removal of the vessel.
“There’s a program that the town can apply to receive financial assistance if it gets to the point where the town has to get involved in the actual removal of it, and it’s my suspicion that that’s the way it’s going to end up,” said Ryan. He said the federal division of Small Craft Harbours has informed them that it’s the town’s problem to solve.
The boat, besides being potentially dangerous, has become a bit of an eyesore.
“A lot of people don’t want it there,” said Dominix. “But then again, I’ve seen lots of people taking pictures with it.”
Ryan said it wouldn’t be the first boat left stranded and reminded folks about the derelict SS Kyle, which has been stranded in Harbour Grace since the 19602, among others.
Dominix figures the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will not want to get involved, unless it really has to. He was glad the town has sent out a letter officially requesting the boat be removed as there will now be a paper trail, should the matter go to court.
“There’s no one to say, ‘Take it out of it,’” said Dominix. “If I had the authority to say it, I would say it.”
Ryan said the issue shines a light on a larger issue — the future of the slipway and the harbour front activities in general, and council’s involvement.
“Council has to decide what direction that slipway is going,” said Ryan. “That’s where the issue is, and council is going to have to decide, and council is going to have to decide soon.”
Ryan said that years back, there was a conversation with the Marina Committee on rules and regulations, but the committee did not submit the rules.
Councilor Paul Ryan noted the last time council met with the committee, the committee members said that council had not offered guidance on what the rules and regulations should be.
“But I know we did, because it’s all recorded,” he said.
Councilor Darlene Stamp added that when council approved the breakwater and slipway some years back, they were to take no responsibility of whatever happened in the area.
“Then the committee came to a meeting, and they wanted walkways, they wanted lots, they were going to do patrols of the boats coming in, and who was tied up, and all that,” said Stamp. “Now, here’s an incident where that’s happening and it’s falling back on council. So, we have that boat now at that facility, and we have the cost to remove it, and the cost of storage fees, we got to put insurance on it, and that’s going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money to take that boat out of the water.”
To that, Dominix pointed out another catch. “The boat is anchored, so you can’t touch it,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Tammy Oliver suggested there has ben miscommunication between the committee and the council.
Both Stamp and CAO Ryan replied in the negative. Councilors Sherry Lundrigan and Dominix, however, said that that depends on who you ask.
Dominix maintained that there were faults with the slipway, making it hard for boats to dock and launch properly, and that closer attention should have been paid during the construction. Stamp, however, said council brought those concerns to DFO, and DFO said the slipway was up to standard.
“Well, I don’t think they’ve seen many slipways, because I’ve been around for 60 years, and I’m going to tell you, I was a five-year-old out in the boats, and that slipway is not right,” said Dominix. “Everyone goes somewhere else to put their boat out. We have a $1.7 million facility, and people go to Trinity Bay or Bay Roberts.”
Mayor David Brazil allowed, “the small piece of water real estate that they had to work with” was challenging.
“It is what it is now,” concluded Brazil, who said the issue now is to get a committee that is willing to tackle the issue.
“It seems like the one that we got right now is questionable,” he said. “They were technically just a steering committee. They were supposed to have an AGM sometime this year, and invite the general public, and have a proper election of officers, and all of that is yet to be done.”
Brazil suggested council make a motion to write the committee, asking when they expect to have their AGM, along with a request to see draft terms of reference and rules and regulations, so council can move forward on the issue.
Stamp however, feared council is tip-toing towards creating a marina in the harbour, something they had previously been opposed to.
“That’s the decision that we’ve got to make, are we, as a council, going to make the decision to put floating docks and all that in there, after saying that we weren’t?” said Stamp.
With that, the debate veered back and forth for a few more moments, and despite Dominix’s assertions that more could be done, Stamp maintained the slipway was built exactly as it was intended.
“What’s in place is not what some people want, but that’s no fault of council, that’s no fault of DFO, what’s there, and the purpose of why it is there, is fully appropriate,” said Stamp.
The discussion between Stamp and Dominix went on for a few more minutes.
After several attempts by the mayor to get council to put the motion to a vote, it finally carried unanimously.