Andy Robinson registered his boat for one night of dockage in the marina June 16. He paid the transient fee and was free to stay for the night. Since then, Robinson hasn’t moved his boat, or paid any money to stay. Last month, municipal staff, following its fee collection bylaw, delivered a letter and an invoice to Robinson, asking him to pay the $4,148.34 he owes in transient fees by Sept. 19.
“(CAO) John deRosenroll is making a personal attack against me,” Robinson told Kincardine council Sept. 17. “We have a marina that is 25 per cent empty and I can’t get a spot; blame that on bad management.”
There are 154 slips for boats in the Kincardine harbour. Municipal bylaws allow the Yacht Club to rent 134 of the slips for seasonal passes. The bylaw states the Yacht Club must leave 10 spots open in both the new (floating dock) section of the harbour and the older section. Twenty vacant spaces are reserved for transient docking – boats that stay only temporarily before sailing away.
Harbour master Bill McKeag said boaters can put their name on a waiting list for one of the remaining 134 slips. Prospective users give the municipality a $50 cheque and their name is entered into the waiting list. When a space becomes available, the first name on the list is chosen to fill it, assuming the boat size fits the dock space. Currently, there are more than 40 names on the list and boaters are looking at a wait time of five or six years.
“The harbour here is just praised,” McKeag said, explaining the lengthy waiting list. “It’s a nice marina, and the main street is just one block away.”
Robinson added his name to the waiting list in July. He is 44th on the list and has many people – including other Kincardine residents – in front of him.
The North Wall of the pier is also regulated by Federal and municipal bylaws. According to Federal law, the municipality must leave five spaces – most of the pier – for commercial fishing boats to dock. No commercial companies are using the space this year, and it is often used to hold overflow transient boats, but legally, the Yacht Club can’t rent the spaces out seasonally.
Robinson said he has offered to pay the Yacht Club the seasonal docking fee – roughly $669 – but, they have refused his money. He said he attended a recreation board meeting in August and was told the municipality has a bylaw instructing the marina not to rent out the north wall. Robinson claims there is no written evidence of this bylaw.
Robinson claims deRosenroll has skipped over several bylaws and committees by hand-delivering Robinson’s invoice. Recreation director Karen Keiffer said the procedure is handled under the municipality’s fee collection bylaws.
“Now he’s breaking the bylaw,” Robinson said. “Is he making a mockery of the process?”
The Kincardine Yacht Club has been entrusted with control of the marina’s day-to-day operations. The recreation department oversees its overall operation. McKeag and other marina staff have access to the bylaws and agreements with the municipality that govern the rental of space.
McKeag said, to the best of his knowledge, that procedure has been correctly followed in the Robinson case. He failed to remove his boat by the Sept. 14 deadline and now could face trespassing charges every time he boards the vessel.
Robinson has said the marina is only 75 per cent full most of the time, and he believes he is being denied a spot for personal reasons. McKeag said the harbour is completely full, although there are often free spaces due to boats travelling in and out of the harbour for vacations. Giving Robinson a slip as a way to resolve the problem, McKeag said, wouldn’t be fair to the other boaters on the list, some of whom have waiting since 2001 for space.
Robinson explained his position to council during the Sept. 17 public forum. Due to the procedural bylaw, council could not discuss the matter. The issue will be added to the agenda at an upcoming meeting.
Until then Robinson has not made any moves to remove his boat from the north wall. The vessel sits alone – unaware of the storm its presence is brewing.