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Access concerns addressed in Sooke’s boat launch parking strategy

Move addresses concerns about parking availability and emergency access
The municipal boat launch on West Coast Road. The district is limiting parking during fishing season. (District of Sooke)

The District of Sooke has updated its parking strategy at the municipal boat launch, allowing boat-launch-only parking during the fishing season.

According to a staff report, the move addresses concerns about parking availability and emergency access.

Sooke councillors explored the possibility of expanding parking spaces without obstructing crucial access routes. All parking spaces must maintain a distance of six meters for access.

Based on observations of parking usage, it is deemed unnecessary to enforce year-round boat launch only parking regulations, said Raechel Gray, interim chief administrative officer.

However, there is a need for additional parking during the non-fishing season, mainly to accommodate hotel events in the area.

Parking management at the site is overseen by Robbins Parking.

The public boat launch was constructed in 2011 through a partnership between the district and Prestige Oceanfront Resort. It can accommodate two or three boats launching simultaneously and provides 21 parking spaces that are 24x46 feet in size, available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Over the years, there have been more than 270 enforcement calls due to limited space and the inability to accommodate vehicles and trailers, which raised safety concerns.

Mayor Maja Tait said the parking issues at the launch have continued for years, and the only time it’s not busy is when fishing season is closed.

“It’s not just limited to 21 spots,” said Coun. Kevin Pearson. “We have an 80-spot parking issue that exists well into the community for a lot of different reasons.”

Coun. Al Beddows said there is never going to be a perfect fix unless the district creates more parking in the area. In the past, the district leased a gravel lot near the hotel for parking.

For those who regularly launch their vessels, the district boat launch is the most affordable option in the community, $60 per year for residents and $120 per year for non-residents. Additionally, two additional locations offer the service: 6947 West Coast Rd. for $10 and 5621 Sooke Rd. for $15.

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Kevin Laird

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