Tiny considers increasing boat launch fees for non-residents

·3 min read

Tiny Township council could soon approve new fees for non-residents using the Jackson Beach Park boat launch.

"My intention as a mover of the original motion was that we see this as an opportunity to do a couple things," Coun. Tony Mintoff said while discussing the matter at a recent council committee meeting.

"One of them was to alleviate the lineups as they impact our residents who pay for the boat launch and its maintenance. Two, to secure an opportunity for revenue generation."

Mintoff said he wanted council to focus on instituting boat launch fees for non-residents who do not have one of the 225 parking permits available to those living in the area.

"It's important for us to make the decision whether we want to charge for the boat launch and put something in place," said Mintoff. "My thought is if we charge non-residents, we can shorten the line so residents can enjoy shorter times to launch their boats."

He also wanted staff to consider shortening the season.

"I don't know if we need to do it from April 15 til Oct. 15," said Mintoff. "I think we can shrink the cost of operating by reducing that timeframe. I'm not sure how much traffic we'll get mid-April. I think we can condense that a bit to save some money. I think it's work the effort to try that on a one-year trial basis and see where we end up."

Coun. Cindy Hastings said she was thinking of going in opposite direction for a similar effect.

"Perhaps the doubling of the cost to park your truck and trailer," she said. "It might be a deterrent to non-residents, but it might be a less complicated way to go.

"With our new restrictions, we won't have any non-residents parking there this year."

Mintoff also wanted council to consider charging the OPP for the use of the launch.

"It's time for us to think about offering that as a service to the OPP with some costs so they can help us pay some of these maintenance fees," he said. "When we get services from the OPP, we pay for them, and I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that when they use the boat launch for their purposes, perhaps they should pony up a little bit and offer some financial compensation."

Hastings wasn't in favour of that.

"I think if we charge them for using the ramp, we'll just see it billed back to us," she said. "So I'm not sure that would help."

Public works director Tim Leitch explained why that may not be a good idea.

"The OPP offers the service along the shoreline from a safety and speed perspective," he said. "They're helping address a lot of the issues we see along the shoreline as far as boat speeds and safety. The OPP presence goes beyond emergency services and rescues, so it's an important point for us to note."

Council committee eventually passed a motion for the implementation of a non-resident boat launch user-fee of $40 ($20 in, $20 out) with the status of parking permit owners remaining unchanged.

Council further directed staff to report back on this pilot program for the coming year, including staffing a kiosk with a summer student for collecting boat launch fees and controlling traffic. Staff will also report back on hours of operation.

Council will make a decision at a later meeting.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com