Public boat launch fees approved by council

Fees initiated so as not to compete with local businesses

Boat launch fees and parking are becoming a contentious issue in Sooke. Some feel the launching was supposed to be free because the taxpayers of Sooke paid for the land and the launch.

Former CAO Evan Parliament reported on Aug. 12, 2011 that, “cost to launch your boat and park your trailer? Free.” Although this was not approved by the council of the day.

Councillor Rick Kasper stated at the council meeting on Aug. 13, “as a condition for the federal and provincial money, a fee for boat launching would be applied, it was part of the submission to the federal and provincial governments.”

The decision to charge a launch fee was made for several reasons which were brought forth at the meeting.

Acting Mayor Maja Tait said that parking cannot be enforced without notice both on the highway and on the hotel. Police are unable to enforce parking regulations without a bylaw in place. Currently patrons at the hotel and convention centre use the parking stalls assigned to boaters with trucks and trailers.

Staff will be entering into discussions with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in regard to parking issues on West Coast Road.

The boat launch fees collected will go towards the operations of the dock and will be collected by Jock’s Dock.

“This is a quick fix,” said Dave Gawley, Acting Director of Finance. “All of the above will hopefully be part of an RFP process.”

A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be forthcoming in the next boating season.

Coun. Kerry Reay asked if there was a possibility of having an annual fee for  residents.

Gawley said they would consider instituting an annual fee for residents and another fee for visiting users.

A report will come forth from staff as to the issues of washrooms, fish cleaning stations and water at the Public Boat Launch.

Another issue that came from the Committee of the Whole meeting, which followed the regular council meeting on Aug. 13, was one of the easement agreement between the District of Sooke and the Prestige Oceanfront Resort.

Local resident Gail Hall stated that the hotel had an easement over the entire property owned by the district and that two councillors “should have red faces.” She said we (District of Sooke) should be equal on that document.

“The documents on the boat launch are rotten from the beginning,” she said. “We need to follow through. We paid a lot of money for property that does not belong to the Prestige,” said Hall.

Coun. Kevin Pearson said that there was something fundamentally wrong with the easements and covenants.

Gawley said something would be brought before council in regard to easements, etc.