I would like to express my disgust towards the public boat launch and how it might become a private enterprise for others, all paid for by Sooke taxpayers. The most recent suggestions being entertained by council border on being illegal if this publicly funded project becomes a cash cow for a few private citizens.
‘Suggestion two’ would give 65 percent of the revenues to a private company and only 10 percent to the very people who paid for it. We paid close to two million dollars for a public boat launch which is now going to be privately run. That’s just wrong. We paid for the launch, why should we pay more and why should we give it to a complete stranger? (By stranger I am referring to the privately numbered company.)
The boat launch has been riddled with hap-hazard planning and bogus deals from the get-go. Right away council gave up some of the purchased land to the Prestige Hotel. It took a local fisherman to make council aware of the fact that the original launch design would require users to back their boats all the way down from the top of West Coast Rd. because there was no turning room at the bottom. The launch was half built before this was discovered. I would love to know how much that screw up cost Sooke taxpayers to fix.
When the launch first opened, everyone was using it and as a result, launching revenues dropped at Jock’s Dock next door. Mayor Milne said that the district is not in the business of crippling other local merchants so it was decided that Jock’s Dock would receive the public launch revenues to supplement their losses. I don’t think the Mayor or most of the people of Sooke realize that it was the Jock’s Dock family that sold Sooke the public boat launch property for almost a million dollars. If you own a burger joint and Mcdonalds wants to buy your parking lot…..what do you think is going to happen? That’s right, they are going to build a burger joint right next to you. I believe this was transparent to all parties right from the start.
Councillor Rick Kasper has gone on the record saying, “We never said the launch was going to be free.” Well councillor, you never said it was going to cost to use it either, nor did any mayor or councillor of the day when the launch was announced.
The end of the launch dock was supposed to be for float planes in an effort to boost tourism but it seems all of that space is being used by the rescue society and their boats. Let me be clear that I am all for their boats and the life-saving services they offer us, but we were told it was for float planes. I had a friend from Chilliwack come here last year with his float plane. We were to have lunch at the Prestige Hotel but instead he had to land at Sunny Shores and then find his way to the Hotel. The launch has no fish cleaning station or scale and no trailer wash-down but the rescue society has water plumbed down to its building for their use. Where are the amenities we were promised? There is a sani-pump out station on the float plane dock but most boats that have holding tanks are usually large and require space to pull in. Space that isn’t there when rescue boats and rotten logs are at the end of the dock.
There’s lots of talk about how fisherman have to comply with the launch fees and rules but nothing is being done about the smart cars that park in 46’ truck and trailer spots. Why are we being beat up yet the hotel users are not?
In my opinion the only solution for the launch fees and who gets them should be one where the District receives just enough to run and maintain the launch on their own and the rest goes towards the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society. They are the ones who put Sooke on the map by stocking our waters with millions of salmon that we all enjoy and benefit from as a community.
I refuse to pay for launch fees that go towards any scenario other than this. If you want my 10 bucks for launching under any other circumstances, go get it from Janet Evans and the council of the day.