Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ahoy there yacht Captains, throw us a line if you can find a space...

Prince Rupert is losing out on thousands of dollars each year as frustrated yacht captains seek out other harbours due to a lack of dock space in Prince Rupert harbour.

In a presentation to city council on Monday, local representatives of the Prince Rupert Yacht Club expressed their frustrations at the lack of a plan to develop the waterfront with space for visitors on boats, who could spend much in the way of cash if only they had a place to pull in and stay.

They asked Council to develop a plan or facilitate a private operator to investigate the opportunities that are being missed by Rupert's lack of proper mooring facilities.

At one time, the new Chances gaming centre had expressed a long range plan to look into mooring facilities off of the Gaming Centre property on the waterfront, but not much has been heard of that grand ambition since the same group announced their plans for a major investment in the Terrace area.

It's anticipated that some 300 feet of dock would be more than enough to lure some of those passing yachters ashore, in a if we build it they will come kind of prospect. The Daily News examined the presentation and provided further details into the project as their front page story in Wednesday's paper.

Lack of space to tie up means many boaters are sailing past Prince Rupert
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert should be on everyone's map when it comes to marine opportunities, and specifically, boating.

But the problem is there is a serious lack of places to park one's boat for those travelling here, and both Mark Newbery (commodore) and Jack Payne (past commodore) from the Prince Rupert yacht club attended the Prince Rupert council meeting Monday night to voice their concern.

"The amount of business that's coming to town is passing us by, and that's unfortunate," said Payne. "It's not a business you have to chase - it's here right now."

The problem is that there is not enough mooring for visiting boaters, and at times, even locals have trouble finding a spot. The yacht club currently is full, and has a waiting list.

"Our docks are full, and it's not even busy yet," said Payne.

Newbery said that their attendance at the meeting was to alert council to the potential dollars that are being missed by the town, because of the lack of moorings.

He also pointed out that since 2005, the number of vessels parked at the yacht club by visitors to Rupert translated to somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 visitor days.

"Yachters are not short on money," he said. "They put a lot of money into Rupert. This is a missed opportunity, and we get bypassed by boaters.

"We need to get recreation boaters in town. Many tourists have been telling me they're better (off) in Kitimat."

Coun. Tony Briglio said that this particular issue isn't new, and in fact, it has been evident throughout his council career. He also agreed that something needs to be done, so Rupert stops losing out on those additional economical benefits.

"I've believed that for some time," he said. "There is a need. But we are also aware of the financial problems (in getting upgrades completed).

"(We need) the right people who would stop the talk, and do something."

Coun. Ken Cote asked if there was a business out there that might move in and build increased mooring, or perhaps even build a marina like they have in many other coastal communities, such as Campbell River (as noted in the yacht club's report).

"Is there a business case to build 300 feet of dock?" Cote asked.

Payne said that if such a venture came forward, the yacht club would work with a partner.
"It's like every new business case, and whether it's cost-recoverable. Probably not now ... but down the road, it probably would be. But the yacht club can't marshall that on its own."

Newbery said the loss of the fish tables at Rushbrook was not helping, and suggested council pushes to get them back.

Coun. Joy Thorkelson agreed with Newbery that not having the fish tables down at Rushbrook makes no sense and she suggested council find a way to get a member onto the Port Edward Harbour Authority board to work on reinstating the tables, and finding ways of expanding moorage space.

"Fishermen and tourists bring a lot of money into this community," she said. "We need to have those floats."

Council agreed to discuss the matter further. Find out what they came up with in Thursday's Daily News.

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