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Abandoned boat to be removed from Margaree River

The sunken vessel at the mouth of the Margaree River will be removed with the help of federal funding. CONTRIBUTED
The sunken vessel at the mouth of the Margaree River will be removed with the help of federal funding. CONTRIBUTED
MARGAREE HARBOUR, N.S. —

An abandoned boat that has been sitting submerged in an iconic Cape Breton river is going to be removed after more than a decade.

Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster announced this week that the provincial government had successfully applied to a new federal program through Transport Canada that will pay for the removal.

MacMaster said the boat has been an issue since he first took office in 2009.

Allan MacMaster
Allan MacMaster

Having a sunken vessel at the mouth of the Margaree River along a coastal route to the Cabot Trail was a major source of frustration for many residents and area politicians, he said.

“It was just going to sit there forever until this new program came out,” he said.

“It’s a good thing because this was one of those impossible-to-solve situations for many, many years. You kind of keep it filed in the back of your mind, but you just know that there was no solution because the owner was let off the hook because there’s no law requiring them to remove it and there was no program in government to get it removed. So really there was no fix to it and now there is and it is going to be removed — it is a big victory.”

Gloria LeBlanc was the first person MacMaster called after he received word from the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests that the application was approved.

The former councillor for 19 years, LeBlanc said she “argued with a lot of people over that boat” since it broke free of its mooring in a storm and ended up about 100 feet north of the Margaree Harbour Bridge.

“This being a tourist area, we get questions all the time — ‘What’s that in the river?’ and now it’s half on its side — it’s a real eyesore,” she said.

“I think the majority of people — especially the sport fishermen along the river — they’ll be glad to see that gone. I think I’ll put the flag here at half-mast when it goes.”

MacMaster isn’t sure exactly what the vessel’s history is, but he has heard it was formerly an RCMP boat that a private citizen purchased to use as a pleasure boat.

He said it’s difficult to estimate the size because he’s only seen it submerged but he figures it is more than 50 feet long.

“It’s hard to estimate because I’ve never seen it above the water but it looks to me to be bigger than a fishing vessel and most of the fishing vessels around here are 45 feet — they’re getting bigger now, but the traditional-sized boat is a 45-foot boat, I believe.”

MacMaster said he learned in the fall that the assessment and removal component of the abandoned boats program will now fund the permanent removal of abandoned or wrecked small boats in Canadian waters. He contacted Lands and Forests Minister Iain Rankin, who agreed to make the application.

“I’m told the boat will be removed some time before the end of next year,” he said.

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