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Big bill for dredging at Port Moody’s Rocky Point Park — and boaters might have to help pay for it

The bill to dredge the navigation channel at Rocky Point Park has tripled to $750,000
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Boaters who use the ramp at Rocky Point Park could be facing increased fees to help pay for dredging to keep the navigation channel free.

Dredging the navigational channel and boat launch at Rocky Point Park is going to cost three times more than originally budgeted.

And boaters could be facing increased fees to help foot the bill.

On Tuesday (June 14), Port Moody council’s finance committee approved an additional expenditure of $500,000 on top of the budgeted $250,000 to pay for the dredging, which was last done in 2016.

The extra money will come from the city’s community amenity contribution reserve which typically directs funds from developers to help pay for parks, recreation, arts and cultural facilities, streetscape improvements and environmental enhancements.

In a report, environmental technician Angela Crampton said the increase is due to pollutants, like dioxin and furan, found during testing of the sediment that will be dredged.

They are by-products of industrial activities like pulp and paper manufacturing and Environment and Climate Change Canada rules mean the mud will have to be trucked away for disposal at a landfill rather than dumped back into the ocean, as had been done previously, when testing for pollutants wasn’t required.

Julie Pavey-Tomlinson, Port Moody's director of environment and parks, said the dredging is normally required every seven to 10 years to keep the channel boaters use clear as well as ensure their safety around the pier and neighbouring dock.

She noted while the accumulating sediment is “not quite at an emergency level yet,” a notice has been issued to boaters to be careful when heading out into Burrard Inlet from the ramp at Rocky Point Park.

In response to a comment by Coun. Hunter Madsen that the $750,000 cost for the dredging is “incredible sticker shock,” Tyson Ganske, Port Moody’s manager of financial planning, said the city will look at raising the fees boaters pay for parking and launching their craft, but not until next year.

Ganske cautioned, though, the city will “have to find that balancing point with fees. If they’re too high we might drive traffic away.”

Pavey-Tomlinson said boaters’ parking and launch fees brought in about $109,000 last year and that revenue has been increasing annually. The money is directed into a boat ramp reserve fund to offset maintenance and operating costs.

“We do know boating increased significantly during COVID,” she said.

“We’ve seen an increase in all recreational boating activities.”

Coun. Meghan Lahti said its only fair users help pay for their continued access to the launch.

“We definitely have to do more research to make sure we have a sustainable funding model.”