In this month’s Tread Lightly article we’re taking a closer look at the issue of derelict docks. This has been a growing problem in the last few years, and we expect more docks will wash up on our shores in the future. Climatologists are predicting an increase in the frequency and severity of winter storms, and many of the docks in the Salish Sea will reach their end of life in the coming years. In this article we will describe what has happened with the four docks that have washed ashore recently on Mayne Island. We hope these examples will encourage dock owners to maintain and properly dispose of dock infrastructure, and raise awareness about the current lack of government support for derelict dock cleanup.
Piggott Bay Beach July 2017
The first derelict dock we’ll look at washed up on Piggott Bay Beach sometime in early 2017. Its origin is unknown. It was composed of large open styrofoam blocks with a concrete cap. Each time the tide came in the dock would rub back and forth on the beach, spewing more styrofoam pellets. Piggott Bay is notable on Mayne Island as a place where microplastics have built up. (See our previous article here for more info.) Thankfully, this dock was right beside the access at Piggott Bay Beach and volunteers were able to deconstruct the dock and load it onto the Recycling Society’s truck for transport to Hartland Landfill. Special thanks to the many volunteers, the Recycling Society for providing transport, and the CRD for covering the dump fee.
Campbell Bay Beach January 2019
The second derelict dock we’ll look at washed up at Campbell Bay Beach in the winter of 2019. Like the previous dock, it was made of exposed styrofoam on the bottom, but glued to a ribbed concrete top laced with rebar. It was also grinding on the beach and by the time volunteers started cleanup, styrofoam pellets were thick across the top of the south half of the beach. The rebar reinforcement caused us trouble, and if it wasn’t for staff and equipment from the Mayne Island Fire Department we would not have been able to deconstruct the dock. Hauling bags of wet styrofoam up the steep path was also a challenge. Special thanks on this one to the many volunteers, Michael Dunn and Ryan Boeur especially for putting in long shifts, the MI Fire Department, Home Hardware for tool loan, and Dan Hafting for waiving transport fee to the dump.
Campbell Bay Beach February 2020
The third dock we’ll look at was another section of dock from the same origin as the previous one. This was a case of failure to properly maintain the dock, and it was disheartening for those who had helped clean up the first section the year before. Volunteers were able to flip this section over, allowing access to the styrofoam without having to cut the rebar. Special thanks to Jesse and Rachel Jones for trying to prevent the need for cleanup in the first place, Meg Iredale for coordinating the cleanup, and the many volunteers including the 2nd Mayne Island Scouts. Also to the owner of the dock for having the courage to show up and help with the cleanup, and Mayne Island Garbage for covering disposal costs.
Campbell Point – present day
The fourth and final dock we’ll look at is still sitting on the shoreline of Campbell Point—a physical symbol of the lack of government ownership on the issue of derelict docks. This one is too large for our community volunteers to handle, though the nearby property owners have done a great job of minimizing the spread of styrofoam until a permanent solution can be found. This dock is about 12 metres (40′) long and made of styrofoam compartments encased on all sides but the top. The two end compartments were spewing styrofoam until they were cleaned up by the property owners. Efforts to have the Coast Guard or Transport Canada take action to remove the dock have failed. Both organizations say it’s not their responsibility, which leaves the question, whose is it? Eventually this dock will be carried to a new location during a winter storm. Possibly Campbell Bay Beach? Perhaps knocking other docks loose along the way?
Recommendations for current or potential dock owners
We want to provide a friendly reminder to all dock and boat owners on Mayne Island to please maintain your docks and boats this year. We are now into storm season and it’s not too late to maintain all your lines and connections. Failure to maintain and properly dispose of aging docks and boats can lead to the situations described above. Accidents can and do happen but let’s do our best to prevent them.
- Before building your own dock, approach neighbours about sharing existing structures if they exist.
- Complete regular inspections of your docks and boats, especially in winter during storm season. If you are absent for long periods of time, hire a local to make your checks for you.
- To hire a local company offering marine infrastructure maintenance services, contact Life Aquatic Marine Endeavors at 250-222-0477
- Label your boat and dock with your name and phone number so people can call you if things break loose.
- Have a plan for end of life disposal. Before deciding to install a dock or purchase a property with a dock, make sure you understand the process and costs of getting rid of the dock responsibly when the time comes.
- Regularly replace any worn lines and connections.
- Before installing a dock, consult your local nature conservancy for the locations of eelgrass and bull kelp beds