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Boat launch issues back before council

It’s back to the drawing board as far as operation of the boat launch is concerned.

At District of Sooke council on February 24, council decided not to act on the recommendations put forth by staff to install a multi-use pay station at the public boat launch at the Prestige hotel. Council instead chose to rehash the issue and hold more public meetings and revisit Request for Proposals.

Currently there is a honour system in place at the boat launch and no enforcement. The neighbour collects the $10 fee from the lock box and submits a percentage to the district.

Purchasing a machine would cost $9,500, leasing $2,040/year and renting $3,000/year.

Councillor Kevin Pearson stated that rushing into purchasing a machine was the “wrong way to go.” He also said they could talk for another year and “fumble our way through another fishing season.”

“I’m not in favour of another RFP,” said Pearson.

Planner Gerard LeBlanc stated council had rejected two proposals at a October 13, 2013 meeting. At the regular council meeting on Oct. 13 council voted not to spend any more money on the boat launch, specifically for items such as concrete stairs, a fish washing station and an ancillary building.

Councillor Herb Haldane questioned where the February 24, 2014 staff recommendations came from and where was it decided to look at a multi-use pay station.

“If it was done, it was done in a lunchroom,” said Haldane.

The biggest issue, apart from who pays for launching and who doesn’t, is parking. Haldane stated one of the proponents had parking across the street while the district did not have a solution.

Apparently, the property in question is not zoned for parking.

Haldane suggested a zoning amendment.

“Fishermen truly believe it is their’s and they think they have some sort of first rights,” said Haldane.

Councillor Maja Tait said it bothered her to have to charge for launching as federal tax dollars were used to build the boat launch.

Discussion ensued on an annual fee for Sooke residents.

Terrance Martin came forward at the public portion of the meeting and stated he was the principle behind one of the RFP submissions. He said it was a mystery why the staff recommendation did not address the running of the boat launch.

One of the RFP submissions would have seen the boat launch operated at a cost of $30,000/year. These proposal were looked at in-camera and were not public information at this point.

Council agreed that parking and boat launch fees were two separate issues and they had no solution for the parking issue.

Acting Mayor Rick Kasper said it was time to get off the merry-go-round and it was time for a proper business plan for the boat lauanch.

“It was clearly stated there would be a boat launch fee,” said Kasper. “I hope we can come to a decision at little or no cost to the taxpayer.”

Public input will be a necessary ingredient to any decision made by council.

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