Derelict vessels present real risks to life and limb

Kelly Block

Mr. Speaker, like the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, we live with the fairly constant problem of derelict vessels along our coastline. They are a hazard. They are an eyesore. They present real risks to life and limb.

I understand the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek thinks that we can always find the owners of these vessels and then get them to pay for the cleanup. I raised some of the problems with these abandoned vessels at committee. The hon. member will remember I attempted to put in an amendment for mandatory improvements to our registration system, and that vessel owners be required to have insurance. The response from the government members at the time was that we could probably deal with these issues through regulation. Therefore, I am going to vote for Bill C-64 with enthusiasm. I am pleased to see action finally happening on derelict vessels.

However, I share some concerns with my friend from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek. The bill is not perfect, particularly around the issue of being able to track the owners of the vessels and being able to go after those who abandon their vessels and make them pay for the cleanup. It tends to fall to the municipalities even to know where to take the vessels. We cannot recycle a fibreglass vessel. We are stuck with hauling it to the dump. There are very significant issues with this.

I ask my hon. colleague from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek to consider how we might be able to go after the vessel owners when we do not know who they are.

Kelly Block

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech, this issue was not one with which I was overly familiar prior to the introduction of this bill. However, after participating in the study, I know how very important it is to coastal communities, and the negative impacts that abandoned vessels have. They negatively impact tourism, and the enjoyment of the coasts and coastal waters by residents and visitors alike. They create problems for our marine life as well.

With respect to a solution, while this bill does not deal with the specific issue, I was pleased to see that the Government of Canada created a program to help support cleanup efforts by communities. I look forward to seeing what is going to be put into the regulations as well.