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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation of the issues and implications of floating homes : the greater Vancouver region Pedneault, Michael Maurice Peter

Abstract

Floating homes, as an option to traditional land based accommodation is a field of study characterized by a relative absence of readily available information or studies, either in published or unpublished format. Because of this, the basic level of knowledge pertaining to floating homes is extremely limited. In order to effectively deal with floating homes one must have a basic understanding of the floating home situation. In light of this information gap the scope of this thesis has been to investigate floating homes in broad terms thereby providing a reference base in a field where information has been diffused and piecemeal. While striving to remain general in nature in the analysis of floating homes this thesis does, however, deal in some detail with the main issues and implications surrounding floating homes as evidenced in localities where they are presently moored. In addition, this thesis also identifies and suggests basic planning criteria and considerations that should be taken into account when and if floating homes or floating home moorages are considered. There are basically three main issues commonly expressed by local officials as causing the greatest concern over both existing and future floating homes locating along their shorelines. The first and most overriding problem relates to the exercise of jurisdictional controls over floating homes. Unlike controls that can be exercised in the upland areas of municipalities, the majority of those waters bordering municipalities around the Lower Mainland are under the jurisdiction and administration of a number of Federal agencies. These include the National Harbours Board, the Fraser River Harbour Commissions and the North Fraser River Harbour Commission. The enforcement of municipal by-laws is tenuous if not impossible because of the supremacy of Federal powers. Secondly, because of the anomalous position of floating homes, existing legislative devices are inadequate to procure revenue through conventional taxation procedures. Floating homes, for the purposes of taxation are not assessable. Local governments, nonetheless, take the position that as users of the local service infrastructure, floating home residents should contribute their fair share of taxes. A third concern relates to the environmental aspects of floating homes. The major problem is that floating homes currently discharge untreated domestic wastes into the surrounding waters. The general study area for this thesis was the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and specifically those areas and municipalities that have dealt with floating homes. Two methods of investigation were employed in this study. First, a review of pertinent literature related to floating homes was undertaken. The second, and most beneficial information was obtained through numerous interviews with officials or experts at both local and senior government levels as well as with officials of groups promoting the water living concepts. General conclusions drawn from this study indicate and suggest a number of optional strategies that can be developed and employed to manage and regulate floating homes and the associated problems. Strategies range from those that can be initiated at the local level utilizing existing powers, to others which require the involvement of and cooperation among various government agencies, to, finally, developing new enabling federal and provincial legislation.

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