January 16, 2020 workshop on how to manage moored boats in Tsehum Harbour

Moored boats in Tsehum Harbour looking south from entrance fairway, October 2017

January 21 2018: Two derelict boats torn loose from their moorings and blown ashore near Nymph Point Park in Tsehum Harbour

The January 16, 2020 meeting was organized by Diane and Malcom Falconer of the Tsehum Harbour Stakeholder Group and chaired by Diane Falconer. This productive meeting is a welcome change from previous efforts. A report of the proceedings in the form of a letter is attached below.


Mayor and Council February 29, 2020
The District of North Saanich
1620 Mills Road
North Saanich B.C.
V8L 5S9

Dear Sirs and Mesdames;

On January 16, 2020 a group representing stakeholders in Tsehum
Harbour, met regarding the uncontrolled proliferation of private mooring
buoys in the harbour, and the resulting problems created. These
stakeholders were tasked to determine a few key recommendations that all
could agree on, despite the different priorities of the individuals, business,
or organization involved. The stakeholders included private citizens of
North Saanich and Sidney, as well as marina owners and managers, yacht
club executives, and representatives from local environmental
organizations. The meeting was also attended by Mayor Geoff Orr of the district of North Saanich and by Mayor Clive McNeil-Smith of the Town of Sidney. The group reresented an impressive 200+ years of experience in marine or related business.

I will start by reiterating our objectives, as it pertains to private mooring

A. To identify a new vision for Tsehum Harbour, that meets the needs
of stakeholders and the community, while acknowledging the preservation
required for the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, the ecosystem
and the environment.

B. To use our collective knowledge and experience in supporting the
Town of Sidney and the District of North Saanich staff and council, by
drafting recommendations to support by-laws and resource allocation for
the new vision of Tsehum Harbour.

C. Although not discussed at the workshop, it was understood that in
as much as the Tsehum Harbour boundaries straddle both the District of
North Saanich and the Town of Sidney, that both the Town and the District
would work in tandem to address the issues.

In this letter, I have recapped the recommendations that we as a group of
stakeholders agree capture our desire for local governments to address.

Recommendation #1
-Determine a path to MANAGE the harbour as it pertains to private
mooring buoys/systems through;
i) Contract of a private management company (i.e. existing local
marina, entrepreneur, First Nations etc.) or
ii) Support management by a public entity (ie. Parks Canada,
Municipal/Town administrative staff).
-Issues requiring management;
-numbers, location and spacing of private mooring buoys
-type of tackle permitted (recommend “Helix” model,
which allows for seabed preservation)
-ground tackle maintenance and repair regulations
-allowance for upland riparian rights to be observed
-allowance for designated transient anchorage
-numbers, size, type, and condition of attached vessels(s)
-requirements for vessel insurance and registry
-length of term for vessels permitted to remain in the harbour
-access to land and sanitation facilities for
moored vessel occupants
-decision to allow (or prohibit) live aboard vessels (Town
of Sidney by-laws currently permit this activity only in marinas)
-mandatory enforcement of regulations (i.e type of use, live
aboard, rentals, holding tank discharge)

Recommendation #2
-Remove accumulated debris on the seabed in Tsehum Harbour to
allow for mooring buoy redistribution, and allow future space for safe
anchorage. (This in fact, would be required in order to facilitate
recommendation #1).

Recommendation #3: Determine the boundaries within Harbour where moorings
could occur allowing for observances required for channels, riparian rights,
transient anchorage, and legislated swing radius.
Mark Lindholm of Westbay Marine Group volunteered to put together
a rough draft of these boundaries, for the Town of Sidney and District of
North Saanich, for information purposes. The draft is in design stages and
will be forwarded shortly in a follow-up letter.

Recommendation #4 (Town of Sidney)
-Amend Town of Sidney by-laws, to prohibit private mooring buoys in
Roberts Bay, other than those allowed by virtue of riparian rights. This
action would preserve the pristine state of the ecosystem and environment
that currently exists in that portion of the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird
The stakeholders have been able to document only a few of the most
obvious issues in this initial workshop. We are anxious to support local
government in their decision on the best course of action as well as the
implementation of a path forward. Collectively the stakeholder group is able
to provide an immense depth of knowledge and experience and they are
happy to share. For example, we would be happy to provide a powerpoint
presentation to outline the issues, the damage to the environment, current
legislation, recent case law in court challenges and much more.
We would also be delighted to take staff and council on a boat tour of the
harbour. This would demonstrate where the few laws that are in place to
govern mooring systems, are being ignored and contravention tolerated
in spite of federal and provincial laws to the contrary.

Private mooring buoy/systems in BC Coastal waters have been allowed to
proliferate over the last 15 years due to many factors, including complexity
of jurisdictions, budgets, and other priorities. Public awareness of
abandoned boats and sea debris, have helped to bring focus to the
resulting community issues. Case law has determined that local
governments have the power to control the land under the water in local
harbours such as Tsehum Harbour and Roberts Bay.
There is now a sense of urgency to address this issue.
We appreciate the District of North Saanich and the Town of Sidney taking
the initiative in determining a new vision for the Shoal Harbour Migratory
Bird Sanctuary. We appreciate your thoughtful deliberations and
commitment to action.

Thank you,
Diane and Malcolm Falconer
for the Tsehum Harbour Stakeholder Group

Sidney BC

cc: Mayor and Council, Town of Sidney


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