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Councillor seeks action on Wellington beach policies

Some of the litter picker volunteers this summer on Wellington beach. – Sharon Harrison file photo

Wellington councillor Mike Harper is seeking action on policies and procedures to maintain and improve the village’s beach.

Referencing the 2017-2019 plan for operation and improvements in his deputation to council’s Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday, Harper notes many specific actions are yet to be completed.

He said the beach and boat launch had a record number of visitors this tourist season, and traffic, parking and boat launch congestion was exacerbated by Sandbanks Provincial Park directing its overflow to Wellington Beach.

“Resident complaints were significant and demand for remediation was high, particularly as it relates to the collection of boat launch revenue, overcapacity of visitors and vehicles, and beach cleaning (dead fish, birds and garbage,” said Harper in his resolution, Thursday.

Wellington resident William Cobban is backing Harper’s request with a deputation to council, noting the need for improvement to the management of the beach as well as regular clean up and monitoring.

“There were no real improvements to the beach management issue throughout the summer – no regular beach cleaning, no monitoring of the parking lot and nobody watching the boat launch,” he states. “Garbage pick up improved, but it was left to our councillor, along with a few volunteers, to call the hotline when parking lots were filled, or when dead fish and birds were spotted on the beach. We basically had to be the beach monitors and cleaning crew.”

Cobban suggests no one department has direct responsibility and the operation needs a budget to take advantage of its revenue potential.

“Conservative estimates suggest that anywhere from 30 – 50 boaters a day use the
beach-side launch on weekends throughout the summer. Add the number of boats launching throughout the week, and factoring in the second launch beside North Docks restaurant, it’s clear that we are missing out
on thousands of dollars of revenue over the summer tourist season,” he said, noting a beach parking fee would also help cover expenses.

The channel, he adds, is dredged every two years or so, for various reasons, at a cost north of $70,000 to keep it open.

“This year because of administrative delays, the dredging company started late, then stopped because of equipment failure. There wasn’t enough time to resume dredging before tourist season began so the channel remained plugged. Fortunately, the season’s unusually high water allowed the auxiliary rescue boat to continue operations – but it cost us in lost revenue from the big power and sail boats that couldn’t tie up at our docks. And because there was no oversight, many small boat owners who managed to get through the channel did not pay their docking fees. Those who wanted to had trouble figuring out how they should do it.”

Council had directed staff in July to, among other things, report back on parking and boat launch fee collection.

Harper is calling for a staff report by the end of February with details and budget considerations regarding the formation of an advisory committee to assess and report to council on a long-term, master plan for the beach, and other long-term functional changes; channel dredging, beach cleaning, and raking; boat launch and parking plan, user fees and enforcement; roach closure procedures; overnight parking and camping enforcement and a harbour master.

With a payment of $1,000, the County assumed a 25-year responsibility for the beach from the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2016.

Any development in the area must be approved by the ministry and annual reports of progress, including an itemized list of all receipts and expenditures are submitted annually.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Dave says:

    Why can’t they fix the channel so it doesn’t fill in? The County was told years ago that this could be fixed by extending the rock out farther.

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