The Bras d'or Yacht Club has long been considered a place for members of the public to go when they, well... have to go. However, busloads of tourists pulling up to the Bras d'or Yacht Club for a bio-break this summer may have to look elsewhere. The Villa
The most sought-after tourist site this summer in Baddeck might be a place to relieve oneself unless a sustainable funding model can be secured for washrooms at the Bras d’or Yacht Club (BYC).
The ground level bathrooms have long been open to the public, but the club says the cost of maintenance and upkeep have contributed to the organization operating in the red.
“Our membership has given us a mandate to make those public access washrooms costneutral or we're going to close them for the season. They will be closed in May if we can't find enough funding partners to keep them open,” said BYC Commodore Eileen Woodford via telephone March 25.
Woodford said approximately 50,000 visitors used the washrooms last year between May and October. Of the total, the yacht club estimates 23% of those visitors were club patrons or users, while the remainder came in from the surrounding area solely to use the facilities. That’s 38,500 public flushes according to their math. Woodford said that amounted to operating costs last season of nearly $13,000. Currently, she estimates a shortfall of $6500 to the operating budget. To make matters worse, the facility needs improvements to its ventilation system and accessibility for physically challenged individuals.
After the Municipality of the County of Victoria County agreed to contribute $2,000 this year, Woodford presented the club’s concerns to the Village of Baddeck Commission at the February 14 monthly meeting. She confirmed that crowds from the Cabot Trail Relay Race and the Celtic Colours Festival were included in the club’s portion of users calculated. Chair Brian Morrison asked to defer a decision on a Commission contribution until absent Commissioners (Macrae and Hendrickson) could be present.
At the March 14 meeting, Morrison said an examination of past funding conducted by Treasurer/clerk Erin Bradley and himself showed that the Village has given the yacht
club more than $20,000 since 2004. That amount appeared to be justification for his recommendation to grant the club $1500 for the 2018 season with the understanding that the Village would discontinue any contributions in the future.
“It gives them one last year with the full understanding that that’s the end of the funding, that’s the end of the road,” said Morrison at the March 14 meeting.
Commissioners then unanimously voted in favour of such a motion.
The only other washrooms readily available to tourists are at the Baddeck Public Library and the back side of the Victoria County Welcome Centre at the other end of town.
Like many organizations, the membership of the club has been declining in recent years. What financial burden may have been absorbed by club members in the past is becoming increasingly difficult for them to do so.
Over the years, both the Municipality of the County of Victoria and the Village of Baddeck have contributed funds to help repair and maintain the washrooms. The washrooms incurred a significant renovation in 2004 that tripled their capacity.
Woodford is hopeful that partnerships can still be struck to keep the facility open to the public and said she is saddened as a resident to even imagine the idea of them closing.
“It's a key point of our community - the waterfront - almost everyone who comes to our community goes there. We're happy to try to provide some support, but we can't do it alone,” said Woodford.