MODG to issue letter to Coast Guard, MP on sunken ship

GUYSBOROUGH: Councillors in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) voted to raise their concerns with a sunken boat at Tickle Wharf.

While Fin Armsworthy, the councillor who currently covers the Tickle portion of the municipality, wasn’t present at the Jan. 18 council meeting, the issue was brought to council’s attention by Dave Hanhams.

“Down at Tickle Wharf, there’s a boat there that belongs to the Native community, the history of it. I guess some time back in December, it sunk,” Hanhams said. “It was raised up, and since then it sunk again. And they’re having a hard time to get anyone to address it.”

The councillor suggested he knows it’s not the municipality’s jurisdiction so he suggested they send a letter to the federal government to see how much of a priority it is for them.

“The Coast Guard was involved already once,” Hanhams said. “They’re well aware of the situation that’s for sure.”

From what he’s hearing, Hanhams suggested they’re having a difficult time identifying the ownership of the vessel.

The motion to send a letter to the Canadian Coast Guard and to Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway passed unanimously.

Following the meeting, when asked the purpose of the letter, the warden explained it was to make sure it stays on the Coast Guard’s radar.

“From what I derived today, the boat pulled into the wharf, it sank. How it sank, apparently no one can say,” Pitts said. “Whether it was sunk on purpose, whether it was insurance, whether it was a storm, or whatever.”

There initially was a major concern, he explained, with the fluids that were aboard the boat; such as diesel fuel and oil.

“Apparently, from what I was briefed on today, they did raise the boat, and they pumped all the fluids out of it,” Pitts said. “They were advised the boat was going to sink again if they didn’t do something, anyways the boat sank again, and now it’s on the bottom.”

The jurisdiction in regards to waters, he said, lies with the federal government and the Canadian Coast Guard.

“Stay in your own lane. The boat is there, it’s a problem, it might even be a navigational problem now,” Pitts said. “So let’s get it fixed up.”

He suggested if it was within the municipality’s jurisdiction, they would have to fix it as it’s the proper thing to do.

“This whole we don’t know who owns the boat, as they stated in council, I’m sorry, I just don’t believe that,” Pitts said. “It’s a boat; it must have a name on it, or a serial number or whatever.”

The warden explained it’s only fair in this situation that they copy their local MP, as it’s his jurisdiction. Coincidentally, it also happens to be that MP Kelloway is the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

“That’s what he’s there for, it’s the federal jurisdiction,” Pitts said. “To ensure that he stays on top of it, and I feel very confident that Mr. Kelloway will be on top of it.”

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Drake Lowthers has been a community journalist for The Reporter since July, 2018. His coverage of the suspicious death of Cassidy Bernard garnered him a 2018 Atlantic Journalism Award and a 2019 Better Newspaper Competition Award; while his extensive coverage of the Lionel Desmond Fatality Inquiry received a second place finish nationally in the 2020 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards for Best Feature Series. A Nova Scotia native, who has called Antigonish home for the past decade, Lowthers has a strong passion in telling people’s stories in a creative, yet thought-provoking way. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2016, where he played varsity football with the Hurricanes. His simple pleasures in life include his two children, photography, live music and the local sports scene.