Is MK Bay Marina too expensive?
That’s the topic that has been posed by both Kitimat resident Doug Thomson, and Retire Kitimat committee member Margaret Sanou to the regional district.
Sanou attended the Sept. 14 Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine board meeting where she presented her case for a new fee structure at the marina, while Thomson submitted a letter with his concerns which appeared in the board’s agenda package.
On behalf of Retire Kitimat, Sanou made a pitch to change the way fees are charged, suggesting that Kitimat area residents receive a discounted rate, to encourage people to come to the area.
She said that she’s aware of people who have taken their boats to other marinas — notably Port Edward’s — and knows of at least one person who has decided to retire in Kitimat who has had their boat permanently grounded because they cannot find space at the marina.
The aquatic features of the community have changed for Retire Kitimat since they were established in 2010. When they started both Moon Bay Marina and the Hospital Beach boat launch were open and in use, said Sanou.
Both have since closed, moving more the demand to MK Bay.
“Many boaters find the prices charged at this launch when combined with the price of parking their vehicle to be prohibitive,” said Sanou in her presentation to the board.
She said that there wasn’t immediate discussion to her presentation but she admits that their ideas are not ones that would be implemented overnight.
“Originally when I brought this idea forward the two things that I thought would really make Kitimat an attractive place to retire were the low housing prices combined with access to fishing and boating on the Douglas Channel,” Sanou later told the Sentinel, noting places such as Vancouver Island do not have the affordable housing available here.
“There’s many things that make Kitimat a good place to retire but boating is something that we can offer that many communities can’t,” she said. “It’s something that we were using to promote Kitimat and it’s difficult to do that when there isn’t more available.”
She said the aim was really just to plant the idea in people’s heads.
“There have been people who have come to retire in Kitimat because of the boating,” she said. “That’s not the only reason people come to retire in Kitimat but it is an important one.”
Meanwhile the letter from Thomson touched on many of the same issues.
“…moorage for visitors and residents alike is almost non-existent, and there seems to be no move from the regional district to expand MK Bay to provide for the demand,” he wrote.
He said that he’s not a boater himself but realizes the value of boating access for people coming to the area.
“Apparently the launching fees charged are also prohibitive to those who must store their boats on land because of lack of moorage,” his letter continued.
The Sentinel tried reaching marina manager Richard Smeal however he is away.
Kitimat board director Corinne Scott did say that there was no discussion on the matter at the Sept. 14 meeting but that it is a topic on people’s minds, including the District of Kitimat’s.
“The District of Kitimat council recognizes [water access issues] and we’re working on seeing what we can do to provide more water access,” said.