Category Archives: Paddling

Time for a harbour master plan…

Some of you will probably be reading John Edward’s piece in this Thursday’s Connection, and saying, “WTF Scoop…”

For one thing, I need to make it clear – I cannot write about the harbour in the pages of the E-B; I have a very clear conflict of interest on the matter, and it would not be ethical of me to report on the issue.

John had to edit some of my remarks down, because, you know, once I get yakking about the harbour it’s kind of hard to get me to STFU. I should probably make it clear that I, and the canoe club, are not against docks, per se. We agree that there’s a need for transient boater space… but…

We don’t believe it should come at the expense of other user groups: us, the rowing club, the yacht club, anglers, etc.. I guess it would help if I present my full comments to John, in response to the so-called Collingwood Municipal Marina Coalition:

“Our position has always been that we believe the harbour to be a shared facility. We recognize that it’s a finite space, and trying to balance the needs of the yacht club, rowing club, our club, and a multitude of other users is a delicate line. It’s also important that each user group respects the rights of others to the use of the harbour, and that one group is not granted any rights or given any advantage that could have a detrimental impact on the others.

“To that point, it’s always been our opinion that the municipality needs to embark on a proper harbour master plan that incorporates the needs and issues of all groups. Citing a study from 1988 completely ignores that since 2004, the use of the harbour has changed dramatically with the introduction of the two recreational clubs. While the Baird Report from 2009 did a fair job of documenting these different uses, where it fell down – substantially – was it focused on dock development while presenting recommendations that would have essentially pushed the rowing and paddling uses to the fringes of the harbour.

“Our board was disappointed council decided not to move forward with a harbour master plan this year, as it could have taken the necessary steps to resolve, or at least minimize, some of these potential conflicts and address the matter of shared use. We remain hopeful it will be part of the next council’s planning process early in the term.

“It’s all well and good to cite potential revenue numbers, but without some sort of solid economic or business case, there’s no way to justify the revenue projections put forward by the coalition. A waiting list does not necessarily translate into customers; a waiting list also does not justify the need to develop a facility that could potentially discourage the use of the harbour by other groups.

“We are a growing club, as are the rowing club and the sailing school, and it is vital to the development of those sports – especially for young people – that the harbour is a safe and accessible place. Creating a ‘parking lot’ of docks is not conducive to that goal.”

To add to that, a bit of my own opinion (which may or may not reflect the opinion of the board of the Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club)…

The ‘build it and they will come’ attitude is something I’ve been battling for the last five years of being a member of the town’s harbourlands committee. The Baird report was short-sighted, with no economic basis to back up the need to create a parking lot of docks in the harbour — and essentially making it unusable for anyone else. And the coalition is incorrect — it was not accepted by the Harbourlands Committee in the form that it’s presented in. The committee made several recommendations to revise some of the report’s conclusions, but those were never put in place because the money needed to prepare the final report was shifted to another municipal priority. What’s being passed around is a draft report — not a final report, and for the Coalition to present it any other way is disingenuous.

The same goes with the introduction of the transient day-use dock in the launch basin late last year; earlier this year, during municipal budget discussions, four councillors were quite willing to drop another $130,000 to extend that dock, even though a pattern of use hadn’t been established yet (because the existing docks had been installed in November), and there was no business case. There are five spots (approximately, depending on the length of the boat) at the existing dock; I can think of one weekend, Elvis Festival, when the dock was full; the rest of the time, I think I see one or two boats on a consistent basis.

And I’m not even getting into the environmental issues, and promoting healthy, active living (I find it amusing that municipal policy discussion on active transportation seems to stop at the town’s shoreline), which were tossed around as I circulated my comments to the rest of my board prior to providing them to John.

So… I go back to my (and the canoe club’s) original proposition – before any more capital dollars are spent in the harbour, the municipality needs to get an understanding of how the facility is used, who uses it, and how it can be properly shared between ALL user groups. The last three years has been spent with certain individuals attempting to ‘divide-and-conquer’ on the harbour – it’s time for ALL the user groups to speak with a common voice to develop a shared vision.