(File photo/Capital News)

(File photo/Capital News)

Kelowna to charge commercial boat operators to use city facilities

Kelowna council is moving ahead with a user-pay system for commercial boat operators using municipal boat launches.

In her presentation to council this week, Manager of Property Management JoAnne Adamson pointed out there has been a continuous increase in the businesses that offer valet, dry land boat, rental, and boat club services, and that companies have monetized the use of municipal boat launches.

“Commercial usage of city boat launch facilities has resulted in a number of complaints primarily centred around vehicles and boats left unattended in the launch and companies using the area to conduct businesses, thereby restricting others, access to the launch,” she said.

Adamson said there are two valet companies, ten dryland boat rental companies, and three dryland boat clubs utilizing municipal launches. City staff has estimated these commercial users account for approximately 25 per cent of total usage.

“A fee per boat is more appropriate than a fee per company,” said Adamson. “This methodology also takes into consideration that a company with more boats will be utilizing the launch more times.”

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For valet companies, staff is proposing a fee of $200 per watercraft. Recognizing that the valet business model is derived from launching a third party’s boat, and that party could be a resident of Kelowna, and there is no fee for Kelowna residents to launch their own boats. Fees for dryland boat rental are proposed at $32,000 a year based on 16 watercraft, $12,000 yearly for dryland personal rentals based on twelve watercraft and $26,000 per year for dryland boat clubs based on 13 watercraft.

The city has an existing program for commercial tour operators using docks at boat launches for dropping off and picking up passengers. Staff is proposing to increase the existing fee to align with the newly proposed fees to ensure tour operators are also contributing to the cost recovery. That amount comes to $6,000 a year based on three watercraft.

It cost the city $365,000 a year to operate and maintain its boat launches. The program is estimated to create a revenue of approximately $106,000. The net contributions to the fund will be approximately $91,000. An additional $15,000 of revenue collected will go to support enhanced enforcement at launches.

“I think this is very reasonable,” said Mayor Colin Basran. “I appreciate not everyone will be happy with this, but I think we’ve struck a balance between serving the public and protecting our community’s assets while also being very reasonable in terms of what we’re charging.”

Commercial users will be required to hold an annual licence and the agreement would outline boat launch rules, regulations, require the make, model, and registration of each watercraft along with having the necessary insurance to operate. Businesses will also need to provide the make model and license plate of their tow vehicles.

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@GaryBarnes109
gary.barnes@kelownacapnews.com

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