Negative reaction prompts change to proposed TSW fees
Boats were packed into Fenelon Falls Lock 34 with fees covered by Castle Building Centres and their local dealers as part of Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on Saturday, July 21, 2012. Free locking was offered at locks at Bobcaygeon Lock 32, Lindsay Lock 33, Fenelon Falls Lock 34 and Rosedale Lock 35. JASON BAIN/The Lindsay Post
Parks Canada has scrapped its proposed fee schedule for the Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW).
“They’ve had a strong negative reaction to what had been proposed and they went back to the drawing board and came up with something that they felt would be more fair,” Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton said Monday.
The ticket-based fee structure released last week would have seen the cost of travelling the entire lock system from Trenton to Port Severn in a 30-foot boat leap from $139.50 to $828 as of 2014.
On its website, Parks Canada said it was “pleased to receive Canadians’ input regarding the fee proposals over the past week” and “following further review of the information and suggestions provided and in consideration of... operational requirements and costs, additional products have been added to the proposed fee structure for lockage on the canals.”
The amended proposal introduced on the weekend has done away with the ticket system and identifies two different types of locks: Level 1 and Level 2. The cost of travelling through a Level 1 lock one way in a 30-foot boat works out to $18.
The cost of travelling through a Level 2 lock (the only local one being Big Chute) one way is $27.
Under the old system, the cost of a single lockage and return — regardless of the lock — was $27, which works out to a 50% increase at a Level 1 lock and a 100% increase at a Level 2 lock.
While Parks Canada has reintroduced the season’s pass and six-day pass — up from $264 to $450 and $151.50 to $216 for a 30-foot boat, respectively — for pleasure boaters, the transient pass remains off the table.
The proposed cost of a season’s pass works out to 25 individual lockages, Stanton said. The proposed cost of a six-day pass works out to 12.
While Stanton feels boaters should be able to make it through the waterway in six days, Mark Ackert, of the Orillia-based Ontario Waterway Cruises Inc., begs to differ.
“They cannot get through this waterway in six days,” said Ackert, who fears people will try, which could present a slew of other problems.
With the transient pass, there was no time limit.
The problem is exacerbated by the government’s announcement in December that it would be shortening the waterway’s hours of operation effective this year.
On average, the operating schedule for 2013 will see the locks open for about two-and-a-half hours less each day. They will be open eight to 10 hours per day in the peak season and six to eight hours per day in the off-seasons.
The agency is in discussions with commercial boat operators like Ackert to work out a payment system for using the waterway.
An amended proposal on moorage rates is expected to be released later this week. Initially, Parks Canada had said moorage rates were to double for 90 cents per foot to $2, with a new $1-per-foot charge for tying up boats during the day.
“What’s the end goal here? Where does Parks Canada’s administration want this story to go?” Ackert asked.
MPs and leaders from the 26 municipalities along the waterway will be meeting in Quinte West Thursday to talk about ongoing waterway issues.
“At the end of the day, these municipalities have the most to lose with a diminished travelling corridor,” Ackert said.
The public has until Feb. 18 to provide feedback on the proposed fee structure.
The agency’s decision to amend the proposal a week into the public consultation period was an “unusual one,” Stanton said.
“What that means is the reaction to the initial proposal was strong,” he said.
For more information and to learn how to provide input, visit pc.gc.ca/eng/agen/tarifsfees/consultation.aspx.