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Judge quashes arrest warrant on former HMCS Fraser

by Keith Corcoran

 COUNTY - A federal court has quashed an arrest warrant slapped on the former HMCS Fraser, which means the decommissioned warship that once called Bridgewater home can be moved to an Ontario scrapyard.

 But the Fraser's former owner, the Artificial Reef Society of Nova Scotia, is exploring its next move.

 "We have some choices," chairman Rick Welsford said. "The obvious step in this case would be to try and get a preservation order. That's where the judge says you can move the ship around but you can't start breaking it up."

 The society alleges that Canada's Department of National Defence broke a deal when a $2.6 million contract was awarded to Ontario-based Marine Recycling Company to dismantle the vessel.

 The Fraser was scheduled to be towed to Port Colborne August 29 from Shearwater for dismantle and disposal, National Defence spokesman Evan Koronewski said.

 The federal court's involvement, specifically the arrest warrant that was initially and successfully requested by the society, put the Fraser's movement on hold indefinitely.

 "Since the matter is before the courts right now it would be inappropriate for the department to comment further at this time," he said prior to the warrant being quashed.

 The society said the Canadian Forces is aware of a proposal that shows economic benefits and other positive spin-offs if the vessel was sunk to be an artificial reef as opposed to dismantling it.

 Another National Defence spokeswoman has said publicly that dismantling Fraser "is the most financially and environmentally responsible option" and noted the society's proposal was deemed unacceptable.

 The lawsuit is still going ahead and Mr. Welsford said he doubts the feds will move Fraser considering, as he heard during the court process, it will cost taxpayers $700,000 to do it.

 As of late last week, the next scheduled court date was being determined.

 The society may try to get a quick trial date to argue the lawsuit.

 "I want to get back to working with the department the way we were before this all blew up," Mr. Welsford said.

 The society acquired the former HMCS Fraser in the late 1990s with the intent of making it a floating museum when the ship was declared surplus by the Canadian Forces. The Fraser was berthed at the Port of Bridgewater, off LaHave Street.

 After years of backlash over the ship's appearance, the society and the federal government reached a deal in 2009 that would see the Fraser turned back over to Ottawa.

 Tugboats towed the vessel out of Bridgewater in the summer of 2009.

posted on 09/07/10
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