West Kelowna  

Push underway to have derelict houseboat removed from shore

Houseboat owner on notice

The regional district and provincial government appear to have had enough of trying to deal with the owner of a houseboat run aground at Bear Creek Park.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan board voted this week to send a letter to the provincial and federal government seeking help removing the eyesore on Okanagan Lake.

The houseboat has been moored off of Bear Creek Provincial Park for years now but ran aground after a severe storm in November.

The boat has long had federal authorization to be moored on the lake at the location, but due to more extreme weather events recently has been breaking free with increasing frequency and posing is a risk to the park.

Back in 2020, BC Parks issued an order for the structure to be removed from the park's foreshore when it landed following a storm. The structure was moved back into compliance but broke free again in late 2021 once again landing within the park boundary.

BC Parks tells Castanet they are working with the owner of the structure to have it removed from the area and have issued another removal order. If the owner doesn't move it, fines or seizure are possible.

Transport Canada issued a moorage permit for the location about 15 years ago and is responsible for keeping navigable waters like Okanagan Lake open for transport and recreation.

The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act states: “vessel owners must take measures to prevent, mitigate or eliminate hazards presented by their vessel and are responsible for all costs associated with their vessel, including salvage.”

There appears to be, however, some dispute over who actually owns the houseboat and subsequently who's responsible for moving it off the beach.

Shelley Styba claims she recently became the owner of the houseboat through a salvage claim and has been trying to have it towed off the shore.

"I was given the go ahead to become the boats new primary and secondary owner under salvage rights," she said.

But Styba says when she was on the boat in the middle of April, another man claiming to own the boat confronted her.

"He threatened us with physical violence claiming he owned it and had been living on it only 17 months ago."

She acknowledged her ownership of the boat is in dispute, as far as the RCMP is concerned.

BC Parks and the B.C. Ministry of Environment will not confirm who exactly owns the boat.

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