Some Cortes residents were surprised to find a notice stickered to their boats resting on the beach of Mansons Spit on Oct. 17.
The BC Parks notices refer to the Park, Conservancy and Recreation Area Regulation and give owners 30 days to remove the boats or else the vessel will be removed and destroyed.
Mansons spit, also known by its Indigenous name "Clytosin," is considered a sensitive coastal sand dune ecosystem. David Karn, media relations for BC Parks, confirmed that the notices were issued in response to ongoing erosion issues on the spit and that 57 boats were stickered for removal. This is the first time residents have received these notices.
Lisa Ferentinos, a local to Cortes, received the notice on her kayak. Ferentinos has a boat moored in Mansons Lagoon and uses her kayak to access the moored boat on a frequent basis. When the notices were posted, Ferentinos commented publicly on The Tideline, Cortes Island's community website, about them. She also wrote a letter on behalf of local residents to BC Parks officer Thomas Porsborg, pleading for a cooperative solution to the issues of erosion and small boat use in the park.
Cortes Island is a boat community, with many residents boating recreationally, living or working on boats stored on or near the shores of the island.
There is a government dock at the Lagoon run by the Harbour Authority of Cortes Island (HACI). HACI is mandated primarily to support the commercial fishing industry, which can be an ongoing confusion with locals and visitors. The dock is physically connected to Mansons Landing Provincial Park. This government dock is included in a 2018 study that was done on behalf of BC Parks, in cooperation with local conservation society Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI). The study attributes the government dock as one of the main causes for erosion on the spit, referring to it as a "public dock." Despite this being a study funded by BC Parks, the docks primary mandate is not implied in the study, and instead there are several examples in the study where public use of the dock is acknowledged.
HACI has also publicly responded to the Oct. 17 notices, pointing to the option of tying up smaller boats to the government dock, if owners contact the HACI manager.
Ferentinos noted the lack of practicality with this option.
“There's been a number of thefts. At least a couple of us have had our dinghy untied …it doesn't seem safe to keep a dingy there."
"I also feel like for kayaks and canoes, it's not really a viable option that those would be better off to have a rack someplace up, near the parking lot or wherever that we could agree to with BC parks to keep those kind of things," Ferentinos added. "For dinghies, you also need to bail it every time it rains unless you're gonna put a bilge pump and a battery in it. But if it's just sitting out in the open, it seems highly likely that it would be stolen.”
A recent media release from Quadra Island RCMP reported a recent theft on Oct. 11 on Cortes Island involving a generator being stolen off of someone's boat.
“The Quadra RCMP have also received third hand information through social media that there have been similar incidents on Cortes Island, however, nobody involved has filed a report as of yet," the release added. "The investigation is ongoing.”
One of the concerns the notices raised was about the timing and lack of community outreach: Several residents of Cortes are only present in the summertime, and may not see notices on boats they have stored at Clytosin. Ferentinos said that water-access-only properties are sometimes accessed via boats stored at this beach and added that many locals rely on the beach to access their moored boats, some of which are live-aboards, or primary residences.
Karn was asked if there was an attempt or intention to reach out to the community or local entities like HACI, and responded, “All boats that were identified for removal are in BC Parks jurisdiction.”
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