Responsibility for houseboat uncertain

A derelict houseboat has been rotting away in the lake off Eagle Bay Road since April and government agencies are still undecided

A partially submerged houseboat rests on the bottom of Shuswap Lake. It has been there for months

A derelict houseboat has been rotting away in the lake off Eagle Bay Road since April and government agencies are still undecided about whose responsibility it is to remove it.

The boat is tied to shore but submerged over the top of its hull with only a part of the cabin visible above water. It is located just offshore near the 3400 block of Eagle Bay Road.

“I guess what’s happening is this has become a bit of a political football, the issue is being punted back and forth between different government agencies and different governments. I’d just like to see the boat removed,” said Paul Demenok, Director of Electoral Area C of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD). Demenok said he has contacted various government agencies as well as local MP Mel Arnold and MLA Greg Kyllo about the issue, but no action has been taken yet.

Demenok said the search for the boat’s owner revealed it was sold over 20 years ago and subsequent owners never registered the vessel so they can’t be held responsible for cleanup.

Demenok said he contacted the BC Ministry of Environment and Transport Canada but neither would acknowledge responsibility for the vessel.

Part of the confusion over jurisdiction may be whether the houseboat meets the legal definition of a “wreck.”

An informational document provided to the Shuswap Market News by the BC Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations defines a “wreck” as: “Wrecked aircraft, cargo lost from vessels in distress, as well as vessels or parts of vessels that have grounded or sunk during storms at sea and rendered incapable of navigation to the point where they are effectively a total loss.”

Wrecks are the responsibility of Transport Canada officials called Receivers of Wrecks, who can either remove or destroy wrecked vessels or authorize other people or other government agencies to do so.

The documents says that Transport Canada may take immediate action to remove hazards to navigation. Demenok said he was told the houseboat is not an immediate hazard to navigation because it remains tied to the shore.

 

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