By Jennifer Bieman, St. Thomas Times-Journal
Whether you’re sweet summertime ride is a sailboat, powerboat or jet ski, the Municipality of Central Elgin is making it easier for boaters to get out on the water.
Central Elgin councillors gave the brand new Port Stanley boat launch the official seal of approval Tuesday morning after trying it out aboard former mayor Bill Walters’ motorboat.
The new waterfront infrastructure, located at the end of Carlow St., addresses a major need identified by the municipality – just in time for the summer rush.
“There is another boat ramp here in the village, but certainly it’s crowded, there’s usually line-ups and they don’t have enough parking,” said Central Elgin Mayor David Marr.
“Everyone was saying ‘There’s always a public ramp available in all the other municipalities, why don’t you have one?’”
Now, after more than a year and a half of planning, bitter boaters have their wish. The municipally-owned boat launch is free to use, but it will cost $20 per day to park a vehicle and trailer at the nearby lot.
Marr said the new addition, which includes two launch platforms, is a major step to making the waterfront more welcoming to the public.
“The boat launch supports tourism and economic development objectives as it promotes Port Stanley as a convenient waterway access,” said Marr at the ceremonial grand opening.
The $229,379 project was funded by a $35,000 grant from Ontario’s Rural Economic Development Program and the interest accrued on a one-time $13.6 million federal payout to Central Elgin when it assumed control of the harbour in September 2010.
“None of this has hit the local tax base,” said Marr. “It’s all through contributions.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek, who attended the ceremonial grand opening of the boat launch, is optimistic about the far-reaching economic impact the new infrastructure will have.
“Access to the waterways for the general public in order to enjoy boating, to enjoy fishing and other water sports is only going to impact the economy in a positive way,” said Yurek, who plans on trying out the boat launch himself when the water gets a little warmer.
“People will come back to Port Stanley instead of looking for other venues to take their boats … I think it will be well-used. It’s well-spent money,” he said.