New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Non-essential boat movement is prohibited in flooded parts of B.C.

Key takeaways:

  • Kevin Estrada has spent the entire week planning rescue efforts and delivering supplies to the flood-stricken Fraser Valley. 

Kevin Estrada has been arranging rescue operations and supply delivery to the Fraser Valley flood area all week, and he is concerned that this all will come to a stop today.

According to Estrada, members of the Fraser River Angling Guides Association have been running upwards of 15 boats a day along the river, carrying people, pets, and livestock to safety and providing food and other supplies to individuals cut off from services, project director for the non-profit organisation.

Estrada received an email from the Office of Boating Safety, a division of Transport Canada responsible for overseeing regulations and enforcing policies for recreational boaters, on Friday morning informing him that all non-essential boating from flooded and evacuated areas will be prohibited “imminently.”

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In a statement to CBC News, Transport Canada confirmed that non-essential marine vessel movement is forbidden in certain flooded areas of British Columbia as of Friday afternoon.

According to the email provided to Estrada, essential boats are only available to municipal, Indigenous, provincial, and federal government officials who are active in emergency response.

That decision, he claims, could jeopardise people’s lives.

“The government does not have the capabilities to carry out the rescue and food supply deliveries that we could accomplish,” Estrada told CBC News from his Chilliwack office, where he was planning the day’s operations.

He said he doesn’t know how to file for essential status with Transport Canada yet, but he’s contacted his local M.P. and will do everything he can to keep his crew and their boats on the water.

Landon Gill, a member of the Angling Association, has been fishing all week. On Friday morning, Wendy Morrison was being transported by boat from Chilliwack to Mission, B.C., to make it to a cancer treatment appointment.

Transport Canada has banned all non-essential boat traffic.

“I must get there,” Morrison replied, relieved. “Without people like Landon, how would I get there?”

This week, Gill said he transported roughly 20 stranded persons out of harm’s way or connected them to crucial services such as medical appointments. He thinks that the members of the association have already aided more than 200 people.

He’s been a river guide for eight years and says he knows the river through and out, so the idea that he’ll have to quit assisting people is “disturbing.”

“This is something we do daily. We’re usually on the river, so there’s no danger to us out here. We’re just trying to bring them back home and safe, “he stated

According to the Office of Boating Safety, the restriction will be temporary and intended to keep boaters out of harm’s way and areas clear for emergency services to respond.

According to Transport Canada, exceptions will be made for emergency responders and individuals requesting access to personal property.

“Volunteers who assist with the guidance of a local authority are likewise excluded,” stated the spokeswoman.

Estrada explained that the group of anglers, which are not receiving any government funding for their activities, are assisting anyone who contacts them and communicates mostly through social media.

“I just sent another message to one of the men saying there are two cats up a tree that needs to come down, and that’s how we’re operating things,” Estrada added, noting that his teams are now racing against the clock.

The ministry announced Tuesday that thousands of animals had perished due to the extreme flooding that has destroyed farmlands in southern B.C. over the last several days.

120 military men have been ordered to Abbotsford, B.C., one of the worst-affected communities east of Vancouver, to assist with flood recovery efforts, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Source: CBC News

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