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Boat operator frustrated with city

The Penticton man whose boat crashed into the Kiwanis Walking Pier this summer, said he is not willing to pay an invoice he received from the city, until he gets more information.

Rene Bourque said he is waiting to get a more detailed invoice and verification the pier is certified through Transport Canada, before paying the bill in the amount of $7,500.

"This whole thing has been unfair, because I can't get information from anyone, not the city or Transport Canada," he said.

The 28.5 foot cabin cruiser crashed into the pier on Okanagan Lake, the night of July 9.

Both Bourque and his female passenger were reported to be OK at the time. There were also no reports of injuries to people who were on the pier.

The next morning, Bourque and city officials were back at the scene, to deal with the situation.

Bourque, who owns OK Region Towing,  said he took on much of the effort of removing the cabin cruiser.

Initially, he called Environment Canada to discuss fluids that landed in the water, but was told there wasn't enough in the water for them to respond.

He then arranged for a boat technician to come out and remove all the fluids from the boat and  for an excavator and barge to be there at 8 a.m. to start preparing to remove the boat from the pier.

Another boat technician was also on hand to remove the leg of the boat and a crane was brought in to remove the boat off the barge on to a trailer.

"I felt like I did a lot that day, and they, city officials just stood there," he said. "And then I got the invoice."

Chuck Loewen, the city's general manager of recreation and facilities, agreed that Bourque removed the boat from the pier, but that all the damage, including broken railings, benches and decking, was repaired by the city.

So he was invoiced for that as well as the security required following the incident.

The city will continue to pursue payment of the invoice, he said.

"In an incident of this type, it is typical procedure to bill a person," he said. "Taxpayers' money was spent to fix the pier, so it should rest with the individual who caused the damage."

Bourque says he also has ongoing concerns about the lighting on the pier.

He claims there used to be a red light on top and lights under the pier that lit the structure, but that the city discontinued the two lights under the pier because of vandalism.

"We didn't see any light at all on the pier the night this happened, because kids who party on the pier were messing with the lights," he said.

But Loewen says the lighting does work.

"There were allegations kids were tampering with the lights, but we have had no problems with them," he said.

Loewen said as recently as two weeks ago, he was in touch with Transport Canada to see if it was possible by regulation to add additional lighting.

While Bourque and city officials wait for more answers, the boat operator is dealing with a second frustration.

He claims an initial ticket for operating a vessel in a careless manner was dropped, but another was issued on Nov. 13.

When he went to dispute it at the Penticton Courthouse, he was told it couldn't be processed because there was no date of service on the ticket, meaning he could not fight it.

He subsequently told the RCMP he couldn't fight it and they told him to pay it, but if he does he is admitting guilt.

Furthermore, he claims, ICBC is holding debt against his insurance.

"I have no  right to fight it, or pay it, or anything," he said. "I'm just feeling a very high level of frustration right now."

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