Ever since my teen years I’ve dreamed of owning and operating a coastal marina in Southwestern BC. Aside from my love of the ocean, I like boats of all shapes and sizes, not to mention the interesting characters that own them. At various BC marinas over the years I’ve exchanged plenty of stories with seafarers from all parts of the globe, most of whom consider their vessels to be their most prized possession.
It’s been said that the happiest days in a sailor’s life is the day they buy their boat and the day they sell it. As a boater myself, I beg to differ although admit that owning one is not for the faint of heart. Aside from the original purchase price, one must factor in moorage or storage, insurance, gas, repairs, maintenance, equipment, and myriad other unforeseen expenses to keep a boat afloat. No question there is something to the adage that a boat is a hole in the water in which to pour money.
Conversely, judging by the large crowds and boats/equipment sold at the annual Vancouver International Boat Show (VIBS), which returned to BC Place Stadium last weekend for the first time since 2020, mariners remain enthused about their preferred recreation activity regardless of cost. I too was there to see the latest in floating luxury and practicality, all the while stoking my dream to be on or near the water every day for the rest of my life.
In conjunction with the VIBS, I attended Boating BC’s (BBC) annual general meeting joining boat retailers and suppliers, marina operators and others connected to the industry to hear about the state of the sector and BBC’s priorities. I learned that while there are still many days of smooth sailing ahead, there are also some rough seas on the horizon to prepare for.
For example, climate change is leading to the degradation of many marinas (particularly older ones) as more fierce storms and high tides cause damage to docks, floats, boats, and the foreshore. In fact, moorage in general is becoming harder to find, let alone securing foreshore leases for marinas and docks. Supply chain issues remain a concern. Trying to source parts has been difficult for many dealers, marine repair shops, and private owners.
The federal government’s new 10% luxury tax on boats over $250,000 has put a significant dent in sales. I know what you may be thinking…no one should feel sorry for anyone that can afford a vessel that costs over a quarter million dollars. At the same time, the industry contends that the tax has hurt manufacturers, distributors, retailers, suppliers, and others connected to the marine sector including tourism operators. The fact is thousands of BC residents depend on recreational boating and those with high disposable incomes for their own livelihoods.
In the context of issues…under the guise of TIABC, Boating BC is part of a group of members and stakeholders that is collaborating to respond to and provide recommendations on the Coastal Marine Strategy Policy Intentions Paper that was released by the Province and First Nations in December 2022. The six outcomes and 30 policy intentions proposed aim to lay out a plan for addressing priorities for coastal marine ecosystem health and community well-being.
While the paper is a good start and the outcomes and intentions are solid, there are other policy concerns and actions that need to be considered as part of the final Coastal Marine Strategy that the boating, fishing, whale watching, shipping, and cruise sectors will document and submit to the province by the end of March. A copy of the intentions paper can be found HERE.
So far this year my boat hasn’t cost me anything other than time spent occasionally sweeping snow off the cover. Although it sits idle in my driveway for now, it’s a daily reminder of better days ahead on the water enjoying BC’s majestic coast or the many magnificent lakes, rivers, resorts, and marinas around the province, not to mention meeting and swapping stories with other boating enthusiasts.