It is long past time for the Dutch Runner to leave the Strait of Canso.
Originally slated to steam from Port Hawkesbury to Souris, PEI in December 2015, local officials promised the vessel would depart last summer, then the ship’s owners vowed it would ship-off by the holidays.
In addition to the unwelcome sight of the rusted boat looming over the town’s waterfront for more than a year, and after the frustration of repeated attempts by elected officials to move the ship, the coming of winter means the boat might be forced to sit until spring.
Aesthetic concerns aside, having the boat at the pier for another winter has the potential to cause damage to the dock during the frequent high winds and rough seas of the winter. This would be an expensive repair effort that would offset any revenue from berthage fees for the Strait of Canso Superport Corporation.
Because the vessel is in such poor condition, the most pressing concern is the potential for oil, chemical leaks, the generation of waste, and other forms of contamination, into the Strait of Canso.
Another problem with this prolonged stay is the potential for more problems with crew members assigned to maintain and supervise the Dutch Runner. Not that long ago, five South Americans complained of unfit living and working conditions and not receiving payment from the owners, then abruptly left the ship, before the community was forced to help them out, in the absence of any assistance from their employer.
It’s clear the owners have been less than forthcoming with the community, its workers, with local officials, and the media. Either intentionally or not, the company gave the false impression that the boat’s departure was imminent.
But not all the blame lies with the ship’s owners. The Strait of Canso Superport Corporation also has a responsibility to look beyond berthage fees in the short-term to determine what is in the best interests of the port over the long-term.
That long view should consider that the Strait of Canso will become a dumping ground for unwanted vessels. If action is not taken to remove the Dutch Runner, other owners and companies might see this as a port where they can keep their vessels docked for months and years.
The Dutch Runner is adding nothing to the community, and like a houseguest who has over-stayed their welcome, it’s time to leave.