Developing a marina policy for Cottonwood Marina

A new set of rules has been outlined by the District of Fort St. James for the town marina.

Cottonwood Marina users will soon see a regulated set of rules laid out by the District to help govern the marina.

Boating should soon become a little less frustrating in Fort St. James with a newly introduced marina policy that will help govern the Cottonwood Marina.

Until now, there has never been a written policy for the operations of the marina. Due to ongoing complaints from users as well as confusion of staff, mainly surrounding the registration process, the District has decided to introduce a new policy laying out rules with an attached license agreement.

A wharf committee comprised of District staff and marina users have met twice to develop principles for the draft policy. Guidelines have since been outlined by the District for the marina’s operating season, lease fees, registration, use of the marina, prohibitions and marina security and safety.

Al Millsap, the marina manager, says some past problems have mainly been around boat owners providing inaccurate information about their vessels length.

“I have a boat docked as well so I am on both sides but, what happens is, people say they have a boat that is such a length and then they add a swim guard and kicker. When people don’t tell us the proper size it causes problems. From now on we’re going to measure the boats as they go in.”

Another portion of the purposed policy highlights the use of the marina for returning lessees. It notes people who have a boat moored for a full season the previous year will now be notified in writing (mail or e-mail) of advanced registration in February. Suggestions from District council members were made to also send a map of the marina with registration so people can suggest their preferred spot. Those lessees may register for a full season, one boat only, up until the end of March but there is no guarantee that they will receive the same slip as the previous year.

Booking for the marina will be open on April 1 for the general public. If there are empty docks remaining upon main opening, additional slips may be leased to a person who already has one boat registered.

However, according to Mr. Millsap the marina usually sells out on the first day.

“We’re looking at applying for grants to possibly upgrade the size of the marina which even then we would probably still be full,” said Mr. Millsap.

The District council will look at the capacity of the marina after registration this year and will possibly revisit the topic next year. Their hope is by the end of this year to at least have the marina policy locked in place. A copy of the draft policy can be found at http://bit.ly/XQx942 and if anyone has questions, concerns or input contact Kevin Crook at the District office 250-996-8233.