NANAIMO — More pressure is being put on the Nanaimo Port Authority (NPA) to address sharp increases in foreshore lease rates, which a vocal opponent says are “putting Nanaimo's marine economy at risk.”
The Nanaimo Yacht Club has thrown their support behind the Nanaimo Marina Association (NMA), a group committed to lowering ever-rising water lease rates, which it claims have shot up in some cases 125 per cent overnight, according to spokesman Odai Sirri.
Sirri says there is no sign of progress being made with foreshore rate structures set to be re-established next year.
“They (NPA) have a problem with their business, they're losing money, they don't know how to operate their own business, so they're coming after their lessees to compensate those losses that they're incurring,” said Sirri.
Sirri says the addition of the Nanaimo Yacht Club to the NMA effort brings the group's membership level to about 1,500, comprising of 10 marinas in Newcastle Channel.
“They have a problem with leadership, they have a problem with their operation, they have no direction and they're taking it out on us,” said Sirri.
Federal Port Authority's are tasked with determining marina lease rates, which Transport Canada mandates must not be less than fair market value. Port Authority fees “shall be fair and reasonable” as laid out under the Canada Marine Act.
However, Sirri contends the process that the NPA chooses to use to determine these rents is far from fair and reasonable, pointing to the independent appraiser mechanism used. He says using upland property appraisals to determine what rent should be on foreshore property is “asinine”. He says this approach punishes investment on the waterfront.
The NPA is unavailable to comment on the renewed concerns made by the NMA since Port Authority president Bernie Dumas is away and unable to offer comment until next week. However, emailed correspondence from Dumas to NMA member Ken Cheung states that the NPA will be consulting with federal port authorities, public ports and the Province to look at other ideas and concepts to use for the 2017 evaluation process.
Sirri is pushing for the lease rate formula to follow what renters under Provincial jurisdiction pay, which he says is 4 per cent of annual revenue.
“Basically, the Province treats this as a 4 per cent tax but the Nanaimo Port Authority is wrongly treating this as a cash grab,” said Sirri.