South Fintry resident struggles to get abandoned barge removed

Stan Roy says it's only a matter of time until someone gets hurt on a barge that was abandoned in front of his property two years ago.

Stan Roy points to the barge that has been sitting on the foreshore in front of his property for about two years. Roy says the vessel poses a safety risk for children at the nearby La Casa Resort

Stan Roy has been trying to remove a barge from the water in front of his Okanagan Lakeside property for more than two years.

Roy’s property, which borders La Casa Resort, is rented out during the summer months to various guests, some of which include families with young children.

His top concern is that somebody staying at his house or the nearby La Casa Resort will get hurt on the machinery or random pieces of steel found on the vessel.

“I’ve seen kids on the barge,” said Roy.

“We had some guests up here one time and the kids kept wanting to get on there…I wouldn’t allow them on there.”

Roy added the barge is an eyesore.

He said the owner of a diving services company abandoned the barge after he stopped doing work at La Casa Resort a couple years ago.

Since then, Roy has contacted several government agencies with the hope of getting the barge removed. Despite his efforts, the barge still sits on the foreshore in front of his property.

Patrick Tobin, regional manager of compliance and enforcement for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said the compliance and enforcement branch has been trying to get the owner to remove the barge for about a year.

“We try to, where we can, get voluntary compliance,” said Tobin.

“We try to get them to deal with it because it’s pretty costly for government to go in and (implement) seizure and removal, especially of things like this.”

He noted the owner currently has three vessels within the Thompson-Okanagan region that the ministry wants removed, including a pile driver on Kalamaka Lake. Tobin added it appeared as if the owner was beginning to take responsibility last year; however, has taken a step back since then.

“He’s no longer returning any of our calls or responding back to us.

“We’re almost done with giving him chances.”

The situation is uncommon, according to Tobin, and gets convoluted by the fact vessels are governed under federal jurisdiction.

“This thing has become a rather slow process (as) we’ve tried to figure our way through the jurisdiction overlap.

“We’ve been in contact with Transport Canada on this particular one…they’ve determined it’s not a hazard to navigable waters.”

Even if there are no environmental impacts and the vessel does not impede navigation according to Transport Canada regulations, the ministry still has the option of addressing the issue through the trespass provisions of the Land Act.

Tobin said the compliance and enforcement branch will soon begin a “ramped-up enforcement action” to deal with the vessel.

“We’ll give him one last chance with very tight timelines.

“Failing to do so will come with some pretty stiff penalties, plus we’ll take the steps to remove (the barge).”

The owner of the barge could not be reached for comment.

Roy said he is eager to see something done before the summer season brings more people out into the water.

“Our rental season starts here really soon.

“I think the owner has a moral, ethical and financial obligation to people who might get hurt. He should want it gone.”

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com