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Qualicum Beach resident wants ban on watercraft lifted

RDN bylaw called “irrational”
A Qualicum Beach resident wants personal watercrafts to be allowed in the Regional District of Nanaimo parks. (Black Press file photo)

A Qualicum Beach resident is calling the Regional District of Nanaimo’s ban on the use of watercraft “irrational.”

S. Merwin, who appeared as a delegation at the Regional Parks and Trails Select Committee meeting on Feb. 7, wants the RDN to remove Bylaw 1801 which does not allow a person to bring in, park, operate, launch, or run ashore a personal watercraft (PWC).

“Nobody has been able to give me a reason why the bylaw is in place, what it is for and make any sense of it,” said Merwin, who indicated that he has asked RDN staff, a park caretaker and administrators about the bylaw.

In researching why the ban on personal watercraft was enacted in 2005, Merwin feels the rationale behind it is “outdated and invalid.”

“These words that they run on c-stroke engines (uses a carburetor), which are high-pollutants … PWCs haven’t been on c-stroke engines for many years now,” said Merwin, who frequently uses Horne Lake in Electoral Area H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay).

The new powercrafts, Merwin indicated, that run on four-stroke engines are more efficient than most boat motors and meet today’s environmental standards.

In his research, Merwin also came across a statement that powercraft operators are “reckless.”

“There was a fear, it looks like, of them,” said Merwin. “It seems discriminatory to me. Any concerns around that should have been resolved, I think, when new boating licences were put in place. So as an operator of a PWC, you need to register it and licence it with Transport Canada and follow all the rules and regulations just like any boat operator.”

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The bylaw is unnecessary as it restricts his usage of the lake, said Merwin, who pointed out that while powercrafts are allowed in Horne Lake, he is not permitted to park his vehicle and trailer near the boat ramp. He added that it causes confrontation between users and park staff, who had to explain why there is ban on PWCs.

“It sounds like they’ve had nasty encounters with people,” said Merwin. “I like to hear the rationale for the rule being in place and ideally I would like the bylaw removed.”

Nanaimo director Leonard Krog was intrigued by the concerns raised by Merwin and made a motion for staff to look into the issue.

“It seems to me we’re using a bylaw to sort of backdoor something which should be done through the front door,” said Krog. “I was just wondering if it would be possible for staff at some point to give us a bit of report. I think, if I were a citizen and I made this request, and given what he presented, it probably would be worthwhile to us having at least a proper explanation of why this particular matter is just the way it does. I mean if you can run the thing in the water, but can’t actually use the dock, I am sorry, there’s an inconsistency here that I can’t quite understand.”

The committee approved Krog’s motion.

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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