On Thursday, March 24, Cold Water Divers Inc., working on behalf of the District of North Saanich, pulled the last of three derelict liveaboard vessels from the marine foreshore off Lillian Hoffar Park, at 10563 McDonald Park Road.
Later in the day at low tide, Cold Water Divers removed the old pilings and float to which the boats and associated structures had been moored.
Since early 2017, residents had made numerous complaints to the District of North Saanich about the presence of liveaboard vessels and structures that had taken up residency in the small bay off Lillian Hoffar Park, as well as skiffs and dinghies that were tied to the park’s foreshore at high tide. Residents had also complained about garbage being dumped on the beach and in the park.
The District of North Saanich is the landowner of Lillian Hoffar Park and has a 30-year lease from the Province for the foreshore area.
The Campbell/Hoffar family gave the property, which originally housed a boat building and repair business, to the District as a gift more than 30 years ago, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a park.
District staff sought to resolve the two issues: small boats abandoned above the tideline, and the derelict liveaboard vessels and structures, including a camper trailer on a barge, tied up to the pilings.
The District’s position was that the long-term presence of vessels above the tideline is considered trespassing on the foreshore and is contrary to the terms of the foreshore lease and the zoning on the property.
In November 2020, signs were installed on the beach in Lillian Hoffar Park stating that the mooring of boats for more than 24 hours was prohibited. In March 2021, the District issued the liveaboard boats with a demand notice to move by April 28, 2021.
Throughout this process, District of North Saanich staff tried to be sensitive to the needs of the two people who were living aboard the vessels, taking a measured, people-first approach to the issue. District staff worked closely with Beacon Community Services and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (the “Ministry”) to assist the people who were living in the vessels in establishing alternative accommodations, and ensuring their long-term safety and welfare was addressed before the vessels and structures were removed.
In December 2021, Beacon Community Services and the RCMP conducted a wellness check of the two occupants of the liveaboard vessels. Upon discovering that they were very ill, they took them off the vessels and placed them in accommodations for their own safety and well-being
Beacon Community Services found temporary accommodation for the two people before transferring them to the care of the Ministry in February 2022. The Ministry was then able to find them a long-term housing solution in the Greater Victoria area.
In February 2022, the two occupants agreed to the removal of their boats from the marine foreshore.
On March 25, 2022, the District assisted the occupants collect their personal belongings saved from the vessels and structures and transported their belongings to their new home.
The District would like to thank Beacon Community Services, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and the RCMP for their assistance with this issue over the years.