Ken Smith and several other boaters were told their leases would not be renewed as a result of orders the marina has been given to downsize.

Ken Smith and several other boaters were told their leases would not be renewed as a result of orders the marina has been given to downsize.

‘Extreme hardship’ for evicted boaters

A trespass notice ordering operators of Crescent Beach Marina to downsize or face penalties has left several long-term boaters high and dry as they scramble to find new homes for their vessels and/or boathouses.The boaters say they learned of a problem last fall in a Nov. 26 letter advising them their moorage agreements would not be renewed and that they had until Feb. 15 to vacate their slips, in order for the marina “to comply with the removal order imposed by government staff.”The situation has created “extreme hardship” for some, said Ken Smith, who moored his boat at the 12555 Crescent Rd. marina for most of the past 15 years, before moving it to Ganges Island last week. The issue is compounded by a lack of available moorage in the Lower Mainland that has left displaced boaters with few options, he said.Smith and his wife, Elizabeth Johnston, are among a group calling itself the EBoaters. They came together to try and resolve “a very difficult situation,” Johnston said.While they have been unable to confirm exactly how many boaters have been impacted by the lease terminations, it is believed the number may be as high as 20.For some, timing of the marina’s notice to leave has meant risking a dangerous move, or simply walking away.Smith said one couple relinquished their boathouse – worth as much as $26,000 – as a result of the situation. They transferred ownership in exchange for $10, he said, adding that the buyer has been told the odds the boathouse will survive a winter-weather tow are just 50 per cent. Another couple is also considering walking away, he added.“Some of them are possibly going to lose their total investment,” Johnston said. “It’s been extremely stressful.”The November letter, signed by marina manager Carol Charles, explains that a survey determined some boathouses and docks extend beyond the marina’s water-lease boundaries and “we have no other choice than to downsize the marina.” The letter notes that “months” of negotiations were unsuccessful in resolving the issue.Smith, Johnston and other impacted boaters – some who have moored at the marina for more than 20 years – say the situation could have been handled better. They question how those chosen to leave were determined, and why their suggestions for an alternative solution were not even considered.“The unfortunate thing is there are a whole bunch of people being impacted in a very significant way,” Johnston said. “The way the marina has handled it has not been professional.”Reached Friday morning, Charles declined to comment.Charles’ letter to the boaters states the decision on who had to leave was based largely on size “and the best fit for the marina given the constraints we presently face.”The impacted boaters claim none of their vessels or boathouses were located in the trespass zone.According to the notice of trespass from the Integrated Land Management Bureau, the marina has occupied a portion of Crown land without authorization since at least Dec. 16, 2009, and at least two deadlines to comply with orders to fix the problem have passed. The marina has now been given until March 31 to comply, officials say.