New rules aim to scuttle slip 'campers' at Midland harbour next year

Midland is floating the idea that two hours is enough to grab a meal and some souvenirs, and is ready to moor onto free shopping slips with additional slip fees in 2024.

Following conversations between town staff and harbour master Rick Dalziel, a report on transient shopper dock fees was discussed at the recent regular council meeting.

Currently, the town neither sets hours nor charges fees for transient boat dockage. Slip reservations for overnight transient boaters at the harbour have been difficult to coordinate, according to the report, through abuse of the free service.

The staff recommendation requested council to next year provide two free hours of dockage at the harbour, followed by an additional $5 per hour for additional berthed time.

Mayor Bill Gordon spoke at the meeting about the proposed recommendation, and commended staff and Dalziel for their “forward-thinking ideas” on turning that user abuse into a way to make money for the town.

“When recommendations like this come in to make sure that people aren’t effectively camping, and occupying these spots that are intended to have turn-around for our visitors, I think it’s a great initiative," said Gordon.

"They have the ability to enforce it – and I’ve even heard that for people that don’t pay their fees down there, they’ll even go and chain the boat to the dock so they can’t go slip away in the middle of the night not having paid their fees," said the mayor.

“They’re being really business-minded down at the harbour, and I really appreciate that because it’s an expensive operation for us,” Gordon added. “But being the gateway to the 30,000 Islands, there’s an expectation that we have marine-related recreational opportunities in Midland.”

Council requested clarification from culture and community manager Karen Mealing for details of the specifics.

“The transient shopper docks are using the transient slips that we have so when a paying customer has made a reservation, sometimes when they show up there might be someone who has been shopping who hasn’t paid; they are staying beyond their intended stay," Mealing explained.

“This will allow when someone’s made a reservation to come and get right into their slip,” added Mealing.

Furthermore, Mealing noted transient shopper dock slips would be available on a first-come first-serve basis, and a request to stay beyond the afternoon deadline of 3 p.m. would be at the harbour master’s discretion.

The recommendation was approved with a formal ratification to be brought up in an upcoming council meeting.

The transient shopper dock fees report, including full rules and procedures for 2024, is available in the council agenda on the town of Midland website.

Midland harbour offers transient shopper dock slips between mid-April through mid-October, although the haul out deadline of Oct. 24 is approaching when all services for seasonal boats will end. Further information is available on the Midland harbour page of the town website.

Council meetings are held every third Wednesday, and can be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,