The proposed harbour rates reared their ugly head again, this time during Port McNeill’s regular council meeting Dec. 5.
Concerned residents flooded the council chambers in droves, ready and willing to voice their complaints about the proposed bylaw that was up for third reading.
“Looking at the gallery, I’m convinced many of you are here regarding the harbour report and the bylaw that is on the agenda,” said Mayor Shirley Ackland, who stated questions from the public will have to be held until the end of the meeting, as per regular council rules.
One resident asked if the bylaw passes tonight will that make it law.
“It has to go through fourth and final reading (to be passed),” confirmed Ackland. “It’s third reading tonight.”
Harbour Manager Pete Nelson-Smith stated in his report that “it became clear through our public consultations that more work needs to be done prior to us raising the regular fees.”
Nelson-Smith said he has made “some changes to the wording in the bylaw and introducing some new fees that will help with the overall management of the harbour.”
Nelson-Smith pointed out that fees for the boat launch passes wont be increasing, “it’s going to be $10 a day to launch and park.”
He has also introduced a “new fee of $5 if people choose not to park.”
“The reason behind this change is not to do with the actual launch itself, it’s the parking. This has been one of the biggest things over the summer was the boat launch parking. A lot of that comes from the congestion.”
“What we can do to reduce that, is getting rid of such an excellent rate, so my thought behind that is for $225 it’s single vehicle parking year round, taking up 17-22 feet.”
Nelson-Smith clarified the reason for the change is that currently, ” a vehicle and a trailer taking up 50 feet can park for $60. There’s no differentiating between the two, other than the area they are parking.”
He added that some users have complained about picking up two different passes, the boat launch pass and the parking pass, so the changes “would make it so anyone who gets a parking pass would be able to launch. Some people have learned that if they attach a boat trailer they can park for the day. For the boat launch pass thats the justification there.”
Nelson-Smith added that the other changes are the North Island Rate of Area C and his proposed idea to remove them from the discounted resident rate, and to reduce the areas of reserved moorage.
“Is there any questions?” asked Nelson-Smith. “Are you proposing to keep the 20 per cent rate for seniors?” asked Ackland. “Yes, I am,” replied Nelson-Smith.
On the subject of the proposed rates, Councillor Aaron Frost asked if the $225 rate is just being implemented to control the parking issue that currently exists at the harbour.
“I understand that might help manage it, but is it actually going to manage it? Those with deeper pockets are just gonna pay their $225 and park wherever they want,” said Frost.
Council continued to discuss the parking issues that currently exist and the tourist and local rates, and then Ackland asked if there was a motion to receive the harbour rates bylaw.
“I don’t want to take this to third reading until Pete has a chance to consider the parking issues and resident and non-resident rates,” said Councillor Shelley Downey. “I’m proposing that it comes back at our next meeting with consideration for residents and non-residents.”
“I’ll second that,” said Councillor Jay Dixon, who thanked the community for coming out to voice their opinion on the matter. “We want the community helping us with the decision making.”