Bridgewater, N.S. mayor eager to have derelict vessels removed from wharf

The mayor of Bridgewater, N.S., is pushing for a plan to remove three derelict vessels from a wharf in the area.

The only word he can use to describe them: eyesore.

“Just looking at them, you can see they’re an eyesore,” said Mayor David Mitchell, adding that one of the boats is currently filled with water.

“It’s a constant piece of discussion for residents.”

Derelict vessels in the LaHave River, which runs through the town of Bridgewater, is nothing new for residents.

In 2020, the former HMCS Cormorant had to be towed away to be dismantled. The abandoned ship had been tied up for some 20 years after it was decommissioned by the Navy in 1997.

“We’re glad that’s gone … but there’s more here to go,” said Troy Conrad, the manager of a nearby shop, who sees the ships daily.

“Quite the eyesore as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t paint a very good picture of Bridgewater, I don’t think.”

As for how long these particular vessels have been here, it’s hard to say. Jonah Doherty has rented a place across the water for about 14 years and says he’s seen the boats there the whole time.

“I mean, they don’t bug me a whole lot, but they’re not particularly pretty,” he said.

The federal government used to own the wharf, but sold it for a dollar a few decades ago. The town could have bought the wharf, but locals say council decided against it.

Mitchell said a development company — United Gulf Developments Ltd. — took over the wharf and nearby area a couple of years ago, so the town has no say in what happens now.

In 2019, the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act came into effect. Its purpose is to address “irresponsible vessel management” by prohibiting vessel abandonment and giving enhanced federal powers to address “vessels of concern” before they become a risk.

“I think there’s a little bit of relief that we wouldn’t anticipate more ships coming up,” Mitchell said.

“It doesn’t really help us in this situation because it goes back to who owns them. If there’s an owner, are they derelict? If they’ve been abandoned here, then they are, but it’s a private wharf — not a government wharf — so there’s a few more hoops to jump through to get rid of them.”

Global News reached out to United Gulf Developments Ltd. by phone and email Monday but has not received a response yet.

Meanwhile, the mayor has a message for the company.

“We’re ready to work with them because we’re excited for the potential of this property,” he said.

Regardless of whether any proposal comes forward, the mayor said several rounds of public consultation would have to take place.

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