Boat launch fee sinks in

Boat owners can expect to pay more to launch their boats at Skaha Lake, if the city of Penticton moves ahead with current plans.

Charging $10 a day to launch a boat and park at Skaha, is part of the city's parking strategy, which was adopted as part of its 2013 budget.

"It was discovered in recent years, that there was an opportunity to generate revenue of half a million through parking," said acting mayor Garry Litke. "So we decided to roll the strategy out incrementally."

Areas that will see the change are the downtown, Penticton Regional Hospital, the South Okanagan Events Centre and Skaha Lake.

Changes already in effect include dividing parking in the downtown into two zones. If there is a percieved problem with parking on a residential street, residents of that street  can apply for a residential parking only area designation.

While paying to launch a boat at Skaha has not yet been implemented, it is already getting a mixed reaction from residents and tourists.

"I think it's crazy, because for me, if I launch a boat every day, for five days,  it will get expensive," said Kevin Cleaver, a boat owner from Victoria.  "It's like anything, it will affect tourism."

A man who gave hs name as Kieth of Penticton, agreed.

"It is not a good idea. We provide faciities to encourage tourists to come here, and we should not be charging them for the faciities they use," he said. 

However, Robert Martin, a part-time Penticton resident and boat owner, said he was receptive to the idea.

"The money they charge could go toward maintaining the boat launch and having someone patrol it on busy weekends to keep things flowing," he said.

Litke said Okanagan Lake is already well regulated with paid parking.

"It is a way to generate revenue," he said. "And there are provincial parks nearby where people can launch boats for free."

Still he recognizes the cost could be a burden for some.

As a result,the city is thinking of taking a half step back on this and maybe looking at season's passes for residents.

"The concern is valid," he said. "If you live in the Okanagan and it costs you $40 to $50 to use that boat, it gets a little painful."

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