Monday, September 04, 2006

Native protests sink shipwreck proposal


The London Free Press
By Patrick Maloney
September 04, 2006

Goderich planned to create an artificial shipwreck for divers.

The plan to turn Goderich into a tourist destination for scuba divers could be dead in the water following the lakeside town's dispute with nearby natives.

The sinking of an 11-metre trawler, which would become an artificial shipwreck for divers practising their skills, was set for Saturday but cancelled after last-minute complaints by two native reserves.

"Everybody's disappointed," said one person involved in the long-term, high-profile project who did not want his name used.

"The whole town's disappointed (and) I don't think it will proceed. I hope I'm wrong."

Calls to Goderich Mayor Deb Shewfelt, along with other members of the marine heritage committee that kick-started the project, weren't returned yesterday.

David Yates, a town councillor, confirmed the long-awaited community event was stopped following a meeting Friday. A notice on the town's website,, said the sinking has been "postponed until spring."

The boat -- dubbed the Maitland Star -- is an empty steel hull and cabin. It cost the town about $7,600, the Goderich Signal-Star newspaper reported in May.

It is without an engine and was never used by its previous owners, organizers said.

The goal was to add another tourist attraction to the already-popular area by dropping the vessel in about 18-metre-deep water southwest of Goderich.

A pair of nearby First Nations communities, however, were irked by the idea.

Chippewas of the Nawash Unceded and Saugeen, which both claim the waterway as their own, felt left out of the planning process and warned Goderich Friday against the planned sinking, Nawash Chief R. Paul Nadjiwan said.

"The community felt we weren't adequately consulted," he said yesterday. "By the time we did get involved . . . it was pretty much a done deal.

"This is the type of deal that makes doing business . . . difficult for First Nations. (People) speak to them at the eleventh hour."

Though his community has "concerns" about the shipwreck, Nadjiwan declined to detail them.

"We feel we need to meet with the various parties and discuss the issue in greater detail," he said. "Had those meetings taken place in the beginning, maybe this would be a different situation."