Boat wash best for the private sector

·5 min read

Eganville – A proposal for a boat wash/decontamination station in the village is an initiative better suited for the private sector than the public sector, Bonnechere Valley council agreed last week and are encouraging those proposing the initiative to work with existing car wash businesses or look at a location on Lake Clear.

“All five of us are on board to keep our lakes clean, but we believe it should be a private venture,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy concluded following a discussion at a committee meeting of council last Tuesday. “There is probably a partnership here that is better suited than the township.”

Council received a request for the boat wash/decontamination station in early February from the Lake Clear Conservancy (LCC). The goal was to serve not only Lake Clear but other lakes including Golden Lake, Mink Lake and boaters going to Algonquin Park.

The boat wash is a new concept for the area and would be used to stop the spread of invasive species into area lakes. The boats would be decontaminated with hot water at high pressure. The boat wash was proposed as a partnership between the LCC and the township, with the LCC providing the funding to build the decontamination station at a cost of $18,000.

When the matter was discussed last week, it was clear there was a great deal of concern about the ongoing municipal investment in the project even though the LCC had promised to fundraise for the initial construction costs. In the end, council decided to not allow the construction of a boat wash on municipal property in the village but rather encourage existing private businesses to take it on.

“This would bring people to the village and would be groundbreaking, but there is probably a better way to do it,” the mayor said. “We do believe these invasive species are dangerous for our waters, but this would be a better course of action.”

In the preliminary discussion, CAO Annette Gilchrist said Water and Sewer Manager Darryl Verch had found a site in the village which would work. He suggested it be located by the Geotube facility, which coincidentally is also the location for a planned dog park which was also discussed at council. The CAO said if council chose to proceed there would be space for both.

Mr. Verch was concerned about making sure there would be an egress for people with boats to allow for smooth exiting of the facility, she added. Part of the requirement for the boat wash was the need for water and hydro, both of which are available there.

“If the boat wash were to be built there would have to be a camera installed and the water would be turned off at night. As well, there is a gate at the property, so access to the boat wash would be restricted in the evening hours.

“There is not a need for people to be washing their boats in the dark,” she said.

One option would be for a payment machine like a car wash.

“The other concern was people washing their cars,” she said. “It is a boat wash.”

Although the group from Lake Clear had wanted the boat wash in place by May, this would most likely not be possible, Mrs. Gilchrist said.

Councillor Tim Schison said he was concerned about taking business away from private business in the village. While there are two car washes and neither is technically a boat wash, they could be approached to see if this would work at their locations, he said.

Councillor Merv Buckwald said he had a lot of questions and expressed some concerns about the runoff from the boat wash and the liability issue with people using the hot water required for the boat wash.

“And what if this thing doesn’t work?” he asked. “It should really be set out at the boat launch at Lake Clear, not Eganville. I’m just worried it’s going to turn into a white elephant.”

Councillor Jack Roesner questioned how practical it would be to have the boat wash in Eganville.

“The issue I have is the timing,” he said, noting fishing derbies start early in the morning. “I don’t see people coming the night before to wash their boat.”

The propane pressure hot water heater is also an issue because these can have problems, he said. Mayor Murphy said she is not against a boat wash station and thinks it is important but had questions about liability and the fact there are businesses already in the village which could see this as competition.

“Have the two car washes in the village been asked if this is something they want to get into?” she asked.

While some boats might be too large to be accommodated, others could be washed at the car wash.

“Is it a municipal venture?” she asked. “I’m not sure when there are businnesses in town.”

Councillor Brent Patrick said he was not in agreement with the design of the boat wash.

“We have two local businesses that can handle it,” he added, suggesting something closer to Lake Clear might work.

The location proposed by Mr. Verch might have problems as well since this is where snow is dumped and the dog park will also be located there, he said. As well, Coun. Patrick said he had asked for a breakdown of the $18,000 cost of the boat wash and had yet to receive it.

“I think it is going to cost a lot more than $18,000,” he said.

Both he and Coun. Schison raised issues about the cost of repairs and the fact car washes frequently have bays out of service because of needing repairs.

“And who is going to maintain this thing?” questioned Coun. Buckwald. “We don’t want to throw it all on township staff.”

Mayor Murphy said if one of the local businesses wanted to open a boat wash the township would do its best to promote it.

“This is not only for Bonnechere Valley and Lake Clear,” she noted.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader