Now that the federal election is over we are able to bring you an unbiased account of the All Candidates Forum on Marine Issues that was held at the West Vancouver Yacht Club in the buildup to the election. The Discussion Panel comprised all four West Vancouver candidates: John Weston (sitting Conservative MP); Pam Goldsmith-Jones (Liberal – and now the new MP); Larry Koopman (NDP); and Ken Melamed (Green Party). Representatives from all the North Shore boating clubs were invited.

WVYC Commodore Bruce Chan chaired the panel and three topics were discussed in detail:

  • The Marine Environment and Development – WVYC has been designated as a `Green Marina` and discussion centred on the fact that in trying to maintain a balance between development and the environment, clubs face a myriad authorities, overlap ping responsibility, limited powers to impose penalties on foreign freighters, and contradictory instructions. All four candi dates promised to go to Ottawa and make the bureaucratic processes less complicated, and to involve West Coast organiza tions more effectively in the policy-making process.
  • Picture15Derelict Vessels and Mooring Buoys – who knew this was such a big issue? Apparently our coastline is littered with unused buoys and derelict boats – often as a result of un-caring and un-regulated boat operators. There are conflicts over jurisdiction over the ocean and foreshores, and there is often uncoordinated involvement at federal, provincial, and municipal level, foreshore leases, native claims to the water – leading to very little action being taken. Yet again each candidate promised to `do something about it`. (This photo was taken on the Medway estuary in Kent, England: a veritable dumping ground for derelict boats – and there’s a thriving dinghy sailing community here!).
  • Ocean Rescue and the role of the Coast Guard – there was much discussion and audience reaction to this topic. The closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard base and its oil spill response capability was criticized, and at the same time it was pointed out that well-trained volunteer organizations such as RCMSAR (Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue) are able to provide vital services to everyone. An RCMSAR officer stood up and said there was no need to reinstate Kitsilano: he has the facilities and the trained staff but they do not get enough rescue work. He believes Kitsilano should look after oil spills only and leave the rescue work to RCMSAR. Yet again the candidates promised they would do something about this impasse. Ken Melamed said the most practical solution in preventing the need for ocean rescue was for each boating club to self-regulate and self-enforce safety on the water (Note: this is very much in line with HSC policy regarding life jackets and on-water safety). Pam Goldsmith-Jones summed it all up by quoting Margaret Thatcher: `you can`t have good public policy that goes beyond common sense and local loyalty`.

 

Thanks to WVYC for coordinating this meeting and inviting us to participate. We at HSC can  play our part by staying in regular contact with all boating clubs in the lower mainland, opening a new channel of communication to our new MP (who is well acquainted with the HSC), and promoting safe and responsible activities on the water at all times – with zero-tolerance and serious consequences for club members who disregard common-sense rules. Picture17