While Hudson debates whether to charge people for using the Jack Layton Park (JLP) boat launch and how to police and control access to Sandy Beach, here’s food for thought.
Between 2:45 and 3 p.m. Saturday, June 16 we conducted a 15-minute survey of people using the boat launch at JLP.
We began by asking them where they were from. Two respondents — a couple kayaking and the owner of a 23-foot Sea-Doo runabout — were from St. Lazare. The others hailed from Les Cedres, Huntingdon and Lachine.
Asked whether they spent any money in town, all said no.
Asked whether they would pay $50 to use the launching ramp, all said they would go elsewhere.
The Lachine resident has been using the ramp for three years, including the season the town charged for the use of the ramp.
He said he finds the Lake of Two Mountains more interesting for boating and fishing than Lac St-Louis but wouldn’t return if the town charged $50 for use of the ramp. Lachine, he pointed out, doesn’t charge for use of the ramp. Instead, Lachine charges $10 per vehicle and $10 per trailer. Boaters using the ramp do so at their own risk.
Next, we tallied the number of vehicles with and without trailers in the parking lot.
We counted 20 vehicles with trailers and 40 vehicles without trailers.
Let’s say the town charges $10 per vehicle and $10 per trailer.
At $10 per vehicle and $10 per trailer, that amounts to $800 for one afternoon.
Since many won’t spend the whole day on the water, it’s a fair assumption this past Saturday would have pulled in $1600.
Multiply that by 32 weekend days and we come up with $51,000.
Assume rainy weekends will be more than offset by revenues from holiday weekends, when the ramp is in constant use from dawn to dusk.
Assume another $42,500 for weekday use. Conservatively, parking for JLP and Sandy Beach could bring in $100,000 a year.
The only expense would be a parking attendant and gate at the park entrance on Halcro.
The benefits of charging for parking rather than for using the boat launch?
Non-residents enjoying Sandy Beach should be paying for the privilege as well as subsidizing the cost of parking-lot operation and park/beach bylaw enforcement. We biked to the far end of the beach and noted the number of off-leash dogs (the vast majority), coolers of food and alcohol, and overflowing garbage cans the Town pays to empty. How many bought their food and drinks locally before heading to the beach?
Hudson residents pay dearly for all of this, so they should be alone in enjoying free parking by applying for a decal.
Beaches and greenspaces in our region— Pointe du Moulin, Oka Provincial Park, Plage Saint-Zotique, Plage Saint-Timothée, Base de plein air — all charge for vehicle access. Some offer reduced rates or free access to their citizens. Some exchange special access privileges.
To summarize, wouldn’t it be preferable to see Hudson’s lakeside jewel of a greenspace covering the cost of maintaining and securing it for Hudson residents? I can’t understand the mindset of those who say it will end up costing the town more to charge than to give it away.
Don’t believe us. Do the math. Take your own survey. God knows we have the Parks and Recreation staff.