Paid parking may be coming to city boat launches.
City of Kamloops corporate services director Kathy Humphrey said the city is considering paid parking at its three boat launches as part of a parking management strategy and as a way to offset some of the costs to maintain the facilities.
The parking fees would impact not only motorized boat users, but also users with kayaks, canoes and those floating down the river on tubes and dinghies. The parking fees would not likely be implemented this summer, but could be in place in 2022.
Council this week approved a swath of improvements to city boat launches in coming years, at a cost totalling $763,000. The funding will be drawn from the city’s community works fund. Improvements include improved signage ($8,000, to be completed in 2021), parking area improvements and reconfiguration at Pioneer Park to accommodate more vehicle-with trailer parking (2022, $300,000), ramp upgrades in Valleyview and at Pioneer Park (2023, $380,000), rebuilding and relocating the McArthur Island dock closer to the boat launch and dredging the river access point, if environmental permits can be obtained (2024, $75,000).
The improvements are backloaded, with the the least amount spent in year one and larger improvements planned beginning next year.
Meanwhile, councillors have expressed interest in shifting toward user fees to help maintain the facilities. In addition to the upgrades, the city has a $50,000 annual maintenance budget for boat launches. Humphrey said that, due to the amount of movement in the river, a significant amount of repairs and maintenance occurs at boat launches to ensure they remain safe.
“The thought is to bring a little bit of a user fee component to it so that it is not all taxation funding,” she said.
In order to recover costs from users, the city could staff the boat launches, collecting money every time someone puts a boat in the water, Humphrey said. A simpler way to charge boat launch users, however, would be through parking fees — the idea being that a vehicle is required to transport a boat.
“It’s easy for us to just charge for parking because you have to park your trailer somewhere when your boat’s in the water,” Humphrey said.
The city’s parking management strategy is expected to be presented to council at some point this year. Humphrey said one factor that needs to be sorted out is the spinoff effect of charging for parking in parking lots, potentially pushing vehicles onto streets.
Mayor Ken Christian expressed concern about the Valleyview boat launch, which often results in vehicles parked along Thompson Drive during warmer days in Kamloops.