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Marathon floats new boat-launch fees

The prior boat launch fees, which were ratified at a council meeting in December, received backlash from community members. Now, the township has reached a compromise.

MARATHON — Time to unhitch those boats and explore the lake for a reduced price.

At its most recent meeting, Marathon council passed a resolution to implement revised boat launch fees in response to feedback and concerns raised by community members – including a deputation heard at Marathon’s last regular council meeting on May 27.

While the Day Pass has seen an approximate 20 per cent decrease in price from $26 to $21, the three-day pass has gone from $54 to $49 and the Seasonal Pass is now $137.25 instead of $152 – both including a 10-per-cent decrease.

Mayor Rick Dumas recognized some residents might not be satisfied with the amount deducted from the original boat launch fees, but he reminded council and those in-attendance that cost-recovery is of the utmost importance so that taxpayers don’t take a bigger hit.

“We’ve always believed there was an opportunity to bring back some sort of user fee to offset the operational costs,” Dumas said.

Daryl Skworchinski, Marathon’s chief administrative officer, said the fee reductions were made to encourage more use of the boat launch facility.

Coun. Ray Lake acknowledged residents’ concerns about the initial fees.

“This has obviously been a pretty contentious issue within the community – especially online,” Lake said.

He added that it’s good to see some concerns being addressed, but also said there might be a better way to open up communication between the township and residents.

“I do wonder about that as we move forward as a way to make sure that we’re – in terms of folks that are using the facility and administration and council – all working towards the same thing,” he said.

Skworchinski suggested residents could put together a committee as a formal way to liaise with the township regarding any issues residents have with the boat launch or fees associated with it moving forward.

He alluded to the conception of the boat launch – which began with the establishment of a waterfront development advisory committee – to highlight how important a role committees play in keeping lines of communication open between the township and residents.

“We can certainly look at the same thing. We’re always open for those conversations about input into what fees look like, what use of the facility looks like. It’s really about people mobilizing themselves, reaching out to the municipality, and asking us to set those things up,” Skworchinski said.

“One of things we have eliminated is just the ongoing advisory committees because they got stale and they didn’t provide any value. But, what we did with the waterfront development advisory committee is we established terms of reference, we set some goals on things we wanted to achieve and, ultimately, we did.”

He reiterated administration is open to bringing a report to council in the event there are residents interested in establishing a new committee and invited residents to step forward.

In a post on the township’s Facebook page, administration encouraged residents who purchased boat launch passes prior to June 11 to make a trip to Marathon’s town hall and receive a refund of the difference between the old rate and the newly-reduced fee.  

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Austin Campbell is a local journal initiative reporter covering stories in the Superior North region.
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