Coast is clear for free boating

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Picture: Gary Sissons

FEES at the Governor Road boat ramp will be abolished after council voted to “advise Better Boating Victoria that it is prepared to execute an agreement” to make the ramp free to use.

Kingston councillors voted on 23 September to inform Better Boating Victoria that they would be ready to execute an agreement for the Mordialloc boat launching site “that provides for a direct reimbursement to the council of fees associated with parking machine fees (credit and cash payments), Governor Road permits, and infringement revenues for the balance of the 19/20 financial year” and to “instruct the Chief Executive Officer to do all things necessary to commence the process to cede its committee of management status for part of George Woods Reserve.”

The mayor Georgina Oxley said that maintenance of the boat ramp had previously been paid for by the fees, and that “council did not think it was fair that local ratepayers should be left to pay for ongoing maintenance at the site.”

“Council has agreed to remove fees at the Governor Road boat ramp and the Victorian Government will reimburse council for the remainder of this financial year’s fees to cover maintenance costs for the site,” she said.

“Kingston Council will then seek to return management of the boat ramp to the Victorian Government for ongoing management and maintenance.”

A council officer’s report stated that approximately $7000 is spent annually on “civil maintenance and the maintenance of the water-based assets.

The report on the matter read that  “Better Boating Victoria is proposing to enter into an agreement with council to make a payment to contribute to the funding of maintenance of boat ramps and associated parking. The figure arrived at in the agreement is based on fees collected, but on the assumption that these fees are a source of funding associated with the cost of maintenance of boat ramps and associated parking.”

“The agreement prior to execution will require modifications following recent discussions held with Better Boating Victoria whereby it was reinforced that council intends to cede its commitment of management status over the land. The changes will reflect a position where council is reimbursed for its costs for the balance of this financial year during which time it is hoped that the process required to be followed to cede the land will occur,” the report read.

It was stated in the report that in the 2018/2019 financial year that just under $84,000 in fees had been collected from the Mordialloc boat ramp. Over $40,000 of that was from parking machine fees, while just over $20,000 was from infringement notices.

The agreement proposed by Better Boating Victoria was kept confidential.

The state government celebrated making boat ramp fees free in Frankston earlier this month, and called on Kingston Council to work with them. They said that Mordialloc was one of just two boat ramps statewide that still charged fees.

The state government promised to abolish the fees in the leadup to the state election in November last year.

Fishing and boating minister Jaala Pulford said she called on “the City of Kingston to work with government to remove fees as soon as possible”.

“Getting rid of parking and launching fees is a massive win for Victorian families, who can enjoy more affordable boating and fishing this season,” she said.

“We want the Borough of Queenscliffe and the City of Kingston to join the party because we know boaters and anglers want to launch into a fee free spring (“Call to remove boatie fees”, The News, 11/9/19).”

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 25 September 2019

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