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Friday, August 12, 2022

Selwyn Draft Marina Utilization Study Presented to Council


A draft Lakefield marina utilization study was presented to council at Tuesday night’s Selwyn regular meeting.

In the report was 18 recommendations based off of community, council, and stallholder input.

This draft report comes on the heals of a preliminary findings update of the Marina Utilizations study that was presented last month to Selwyn Township council at a special meeting by Monteith Brown Consulting Services Inc.

The study is intended to identify ways the Lakefield Marina can be modernized and enhanced to create a destination for boaters, tourists and residents.

The draft report is 71 pages and encompasses Monteith Brown’s objectives, consultation process, findings thus far, statistics, comparisons of different marinas to Lakefield, and of course their recommendations moving forward.

The 18 recommendations made were as follows:
1. The Township of Selwyn should continue to remain involved in the direct operation and delivery of services at the Lakefield Marina.
2. Prior to undertaking any major works associated with the Lakefield Marina building, docking systems and other infrastructure, complete condition assessments to inform decisions regarding the timing and cost implications of such works.
3. Increase seasonal slip rental fees to remain competitive with the regional market but also allow for greater flexibility to reinvest in the assets and experiences provided through the Lakefield Marina. Depending upon the level of fee increase, consideration may be given to phasing in the fee increases over a period of time.
4. Prior to undertaking any adjustments at the Lakefield Marina relating to added infrastructure or services being offered, the Township should evaluate the capacity of its existing marina staffing complement and their ability to accommodate increased work demands arising from changes to the marina operation.
5. In concert with the local business community, develop a strategy to improve awareness of nearby amenities to Lakefield Marina users. At a minimum, this should consider more tourism information materials being provided through the Marina along with enhanced wayfinding features and signage to connect waterfront users to the rest of Lakefield.
6. Consistent with industry best practice and findings of the Service Delivery Review for the Parks & Recreation Department, conduct a cost-benefit analysis to consider online booking and payment options for the Lakefield Marina operations, preferably one that is compatible with the Township’s existing or future online platforms.
7. Create a policy that directs a portion of increased revenue or net profits attributable to increased slip rental rates to a capital reserve in line with sustainable asset management practices and ability to provide greater transparency to the public.
8. Future major infrastructure renewal and replacement dock works should explore the ability and cost associated with upgrading additional slips to provide 50 amp electrical service.
9. Continue the Marina’s existing practice of temporarily renting vacated seasonal slips when holders are away for extended periods of time in order to maximize marina operating performance and community benefits.
10. Subject to obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals, replace some of the existing finger docks at the Lakefield Marina with a second T-Dock. In the event approvals are not granted or design feasibility cannot reasonably accommodate this action, evaluate alternative options to increase the number of slips to add new or enlarge existing docking systems onsite.
11. Engage the Trent Severn Waterway’s senior management and Business Development Unit to discuss the feasibility of providing public docks along the shore wall at its Lakefield workshop and other TSW properties. One option to explore would be a partnership approach whereby the Township could use its existing organizational infrastructure at the Marina to facilitate and manage public access on TSW-owned lands.
12. Investigate the potential of adding docks along the section of shoreline that generally follows Hague Boulevard in Lakefield, with preference given to designating these as seasonal unserviced boat slips. Property owners abutting the proposed docking areas should be consulted for input prior to any installation.
13. Improve ease of public access to the canoe/kayak launch at Isabel Morris Park through design enhancements that address existing challenges related to grade and surfacing, while also adding signage to indicate the availability of this amenity to park users.
14. Engage the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority to discuss design and/or resource sharing opportunities to formalize an area for a canoe and kayak launch at or near the Lakefield Beach or Lakefield Campground.
15. Revisit pricing strategies for the Lakefield Marina’s retail offerings including setting a target of 35% for the average Cost of Goods sold as a percentage of revenue.
16. Extend hours of operation for the Lakefield Marina’s concession during the peak season to reach a larger market of customers and enhance the public experience at the waterfront through access to food and beverage items, particularly during evenings and weekends.
17. Engage local businesses, potentially through a Request For Proposal, to have them supply an expanded range of food and beverage items available for sale through the Lakefield Marina.
18. Make greater use of the Lakefield Marina’s exterior open spaces by formalizing areas that contain exterior seating and tables.

Anand Desai, with Monteith Brown, who was presenting the report, said that their next steps included public review of the draft report with a commenting period through to mid-august and then coming back to council with a final Lakefield Marina Utilization Study in September.

Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis asked Desai after the presentation if they were going to be suggesting timelines for these recommendations, specifically in regards to the recommendation number two.

“It’s really open-ended, and it could sit for five or ten years before we decide to do an assessment on the condition of the docks,” Senis said.

Desai responded by saying that yes, included in the draft report were suggested timelines with the docks being a few years out.

Senis also wanted to know about recommendation 13, in regards to the canoe/kayak launch at Isabel Morris Park, noting that other communities have received grants to help make these amenities more accessible.

Desai agreed and stated that Selwyn has certainly benefited from grants in the past and should look into doing so in the future. He also noted that should grant timelines line up with the project, it may even help speed the process along.

Coun. Donna Ballantyne also raised concerns over recommendation 13 stating it was very dangerous.

Desai made note that they would look into making that recommendation more of a priority moving forward.

Coun. Gerry Herron asked presenters, “in your opinion, based on your experiences with marinas, how close are we to this marine area being the destination and not just for boaters but for people to actually want to come down and create more traffic.”

Desai responded by saying, “I mean, arguably the marine is a destination already. I think your residence know that or a number of them do. I think it’s such a strategic location. And so, I think perhaps the biggest challenge is just there are between 39 and 42, slips at a given time and so the biggest challenge is reinforcing or increasing the intensity of it as a destination it comes down to the slips. That being said, one also has to be very careful when we talk about intensity. Because there is also a point where too much can come at to the detriment of a site.”

Senis moved a motion to receive the report, wait for public comment and for Monteith Brown to return in September with a final report. Locke seconded the motion which was carried.