There is a steel trawler-styled boat (Patty Jay II) grounded along the Midland shoreline near the old glass factory next the equally old coal docks. “It pulled out of its mooring in the little bay that stores the Miss midland when we had a mild spell and the ice got thin. It then got locked in by the ice again.”
Town Council became aware of the issue some time ago and set the Town’s bylaw officer on the job of creating a new Midland Harbour bylaw to deal with this issue as well as other harbour issues for which the Town had nothing in place. Jim Reichheld, the town’s bylaw officer presented a draft to council who’s eagerness to receive the document seemed to vanish almost immediately as debate ensued about much of the content. After sending him back for more revisions, effectively “gutting” the proposed bylaw and making it far less effective, council again received the draft and decided that more public consultations are in order.
While I cannot begrudge public consultation (although from our experience it is simply lip-service and opinion is the last thing our Council wants to hear) and actually encourage it, the real issue is that we have a long-abandoned boat that the owner may or may not be living on, beached on Midland shoreline. This is a precedent for sure since by doing nothing about this, Midland is effectively welcoming similar acts and squatting on public lands.
Now it may very well be that the owner of this vessel is down on their luck and the alternative to this sturdy vessel would be a tent or outright vagrancy, but the fact that the town is seemingly condoning this by their inaction brings us to another winter season where the vessel will become locked in ice and potentially damaged to the point where it takes on water, its tanks rupture spilling their contents into the bay, or that an occupant living aboard may accidentally set the boat ablaze.
Perhaps while the nine town fathers (and mother) debate the harbour bylaw, they could make some decision on this one simple matter. Is the boat’s owner trespassing? Is it considered abandoned in federally regulated waters? Who does it belong to? Is he/she living on it? Where is the effluent from the toilet(s) going? Is there fuel in the boat’s tanks? Can it be moved by towing to a local marina where it could be hauled out and stored safely at the owner’s expense? Most importantly, can anyone else simply beach a boat along the shoreline and live there virtually free? If so, then it actually sounds quite attractive as I could shrug off those tax bills, buy a sturdy boat and live with a waterfront Midland Bay view for free.
So what’s it going to be Mayor and Councillors? Am I selling my home and buying a boat?