Pro­tect­ing Pointe Beach

Pub­lic brief­ing in Cupids at­tracts large crowd; gen­er­ates plenty of dis­cus­sion

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

A pub­lic brief­ing in Cupids last week to seek in­put from res­i­dents about an in­ten­tion to pro­tect and en­hance an area of the his­toric har­bour known as Pointe Beach gen­er­ated plenty of dis­cus­sion and vary­ing opin­ions.

But mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers be­lieve a vast ma­jor­ity of the town’s roughly 760 ci­ti­zens over­whelm­ingly sup­port the con­cept, and vow to push for­ward with plans to ac­quire own­er­ship of the Crown land and de­velop a recre­ational ma­rina that will sus­tain it­self through user fees and other rev­enue sources.

It’s ar­gued that a ma­rina will evolve into yet an­other “key com­mu­nity as­set” in the town, which was thrust into the na­tional spot­light in 2010 dur­ing cel­e­bra­tions to mark the 400th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of Cu­per’s Cove, con­sid­ered by his­to­ri­ans as the first English set­tle­ment in Canada.

The cel­e­bra­tion has left a last­ing im­print on the town, most notably a renowned her­itage in­ter­pre­ta­tion fa­cil­ity known as the Cupids Legacy Cen­tre.

The Feb. 12 meet­ing at­tracted more than 50 peo­ple, which is a healthy turnout by most stan­dards. It was hosted by mu­nic­i­pal plan­ning con­sul­tant Arvo McMil­lan, who has been hired by the town to over­see a pro­posed amend­ment to the town’s mu­nic­i­pal plan and devel­op­ment reg­u­la­tions.

Coun­cil ap­proved the spend­ing of some $25,000 at a pub­lic meet­ing ear­lier this month in or­der to ac­quire McMil­lan’s ser­vices. The money will come from rev­enues re­ceived through the town’s share of the fed­eral “gas tax.”

Docks and har­bours

The pro­posed amend­ment will add the term “trans­porta­tion” as a dis­cre­tionary use in ar­eas zoned as ru­ral. Specif­i­cally, the amend­ment will al­low, at the dis­cre­tion of coun­cil, the con­struc­tion of docks and har­bours along the shore­line.

Un­der the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions, ac­tiv­i­ties are pro­hib­ited.

Coun­cil has ap­plied to the pro­vin­cial government to take full own­er­ship of Pointe Beach, a unique penin­sula of land that juts into the har­bour from Seafor­est Drive, and pro­tects a small bara­chois known as Salt­wa­ter Pond.

The “beach,” as it’s known lo­cally, was con­sid­ered a eye­sore un­til sig­nif­i­cant government funds were used to up­grade the site prior to the 2010 cel­e­bra­tions. It is now home to the an­nual Cu­per’s Cove Soiree sum­mer fes­ti­val, and is a pop­u­lar area for boaters seek­ing a shel­tered and ac­ces­si­ble place to moor their small craft.

A newly formed Cupids boat own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion — com­prised en­tirely of vol­un­teers — has been formed to ad­min­is­ter the beach on be­half of the town, but its man­date is stalled un­til the town can take own­er­ship of the site, and the zon­ing amend­ment is made.

“Right now we have no say,” Deputy Mayor Harold Akerman stated af­ter last week’s meet­ing. “We just want to main­tain what’s there. We don’t want it to fall down. And we can’t do any­thing un­til the word ‘trans­porta­tion’ is in­cluded in our dis­cre­tionary use.”

such

User fees

Mayor Ross Dawe said the town does not have the fi­nan­cial where­withal to main­tain the prop­erty, so a user fee sys­tem is nec­es­sary.

“If we don’t get rev­enue it will all fall down like it did be­fore,” Dawe said, adding, “Ninty-nine per cent of the boat own­ers are will­ing to pay a fee to have a place to tie up their boat.”

A spokesman for the boat own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion, Robert Bishop, said the po­ten­tial at Pointe Beach is tremen­dous. Dawe said the in­tent is to “fa­cil­i­tate com­mu­nity devel­op­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity,” and the ef­fort seems to have wide­spread sup­port.

McMil­lan re­ceived a pe­ti­tion signed by some 60 peo­ple, back­ing ef­forts to “cre­ate a long-term legacy of har­bourfront in­fra­struc­ture” that will meet the needs of both res­i­dents and non-res­i­dents.

There were also seven let­ters of sup­port, in­clud­ing one from Peter Laracy, who man­ages the Legacy Cen­tre. Laracy said a well devel­oped har­bour is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent in ef­forts to es­tab­lish what he called a cul­tural des­ti­na­tion.

“The as­sets of Pointe Beach are an im­por­tant com­po­nent in re­flect­ing our cul­ture, as well as our past and cur­rent way of life,” Laracy stated.

“It is truly a spe­cial place, uniquely po­si­tioned di­rectly across from the arche­o­log­i­cal site. One can stand there and truly get a vivid sense of our rich his­tory.”

If we don’t get rev­enue it will all fall down like it did be­fore. Ninty-nine per cent of the boat own­ers are will­ing to pay a fee to have a place to tie up their boat.

— Ross Dawe, mayor of the Town of Cupidsx

In pri­vate hands

Mean­while, sup­port for the con­cept is by no means unan­i­mous. One speaker at the meet­ing, Leonard Martin, sug­gested the town was plan­ning to de­velop a “com­mer­cial ma­rina” and ques­tioned whether some tra­di­tional ac­tiv­i­ties may soon be a thing of the past.

He won­dered who would op­er­ate the ma­rina, how much it would cost to de­velop, and how much it would cost the town?

Martin is wor­ried the ma­rina will be op­er­ated by a “pri­vate in­di­vid­ual,” and re­minded those at the meet­ing that “landown­ers have been threat­ened with ex­pro­pri­a­tion.”

“If this be­comes a com­mer­cial ma­rina, will there be a chain put across?” Martin asked.

In­deed, there is plenty of ev­i­dence along the shore­line to sug­gest a land bat­tle is brew­ing. New fenc­ing has been in­stalled in re­cent years, land pegs have been slammed into the ground, and “pri­vate prop­erty” signs are about as com­mon as the ducks in the pond.

When asked about the vi­sion for Pointe Beach, Mayor Dawe said those de­ci­sions will likely be made by the next town coun­cil, which will be elected in Septem­ber.

“In the fu­ture there will be a plan drawn up for the pond, in con­junc­tion be­tween the town and the boat own­ers,” said Dawe.

To which Deputy Mayor Akerman added: “It will never in­clude a com­mer­cial ma­rina. It will be classed as a recre­ational ma­rina.”

If the town chooses to pro­ceed with the amend­ment, a for­mal pub­lic hear­ing, chaired by a com­mis­sioner ap­pointed by coun­cil, will take place. That’s likely to oc­cur some­time be­fore the end of March, said McMil­lan.

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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