I think the backlog is a very serious concern. You can't go to any harbour, really, on any of the major islands, cast your eye about, and not see an abandoned or derelict vessel washed up on the beaches. They are in the playgrounds for our children. They are where we swim. They affect the nurseries and the eelgrass. These vessels must be removed. They just continue to deteriorate. The longer we leave them there, the most costly they will become.
With respect to the take-up on the removal program, I think there are some significant problems with the assumption of ownership, for instance, and with the application for funding.
There are too many questions about how the process will unfold for those parties to take on some significant responsibilities. I think 200 vessels were identified in the Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia area. There is no doubt that there are vessels out there, but there are definitely concerns with taking on that responsibility. I am concerned about asking volunteer organizations to take on vessels that are essentially hazardous materials. Honestly, I don't think we should be encouraging private citizens to take on the cleanup of toxic chemicals, hydrocarbons, lead, asbestos, and all sorts of things that are contained in those vessels.
I think there is a necessity to have a point agency responsible for identifying these vessels and assessing the risks associated with them. Certainly if it's just a small boat with no toxins, we could probably do something there, but I am worried about the toxicity of the vessels that are there.
I'm also worried, quite honestly, about regional districts accepting these vessels into their landfill sites. We don't accept drywall and gypsum into our landfill sites, for obvious reasons. If these vessels are hazardous waste sites, which I would suggest they are, I think there needs to be serious consideration given to how we're going to handle these things, and it needs to be done professionally and efficiently.