LETTER: Boat ramp closure defeats purpose of social distancing

Sidney council has decided that the Tulista boat ramp will be closed “in response to the Canadian Coast Guard’s appeal to avoid non-essential boating.”

Like most Canadians, I am well aware that we must all help in this crisis. Far be it from me to question the logic of our Coast Guard, but I’m at a loss to understand how it can be of any benefit to curtail a segment of the population from what is arguably the ultimate in social distancing. Seriously, can one be any farther away from everyone else than when one is alone (or with immediate family) on the water?

But why target only one part of the local boating community? The Coast Guard did say “non-essential boating” so one presumes they meant all non-essential boating. Then why not close down all the Sidney marinas? Port of Sidney and Van Isle Marina for instance. Why not ban all those who have boats in Sidney marinas, clubs, on private docks or mooring buoys from accessing their vessels? Seems short sighted (some might claim ‘half-baked) to target only one segment.

Mayor and councillors, you may believe you are doing your part to ‘stop the spread’ but on this one you’re wrong. Failing a coordinated closure of all boat ramps on the South Island, boaters will simply find other launch sites, unfortunately ones that are farther away. Inconvenient yes, more fuel used for sure, overcrowding certainly – but they will find a spot to launch.

All you are doing is moving ‘the problem’.

It would be quite simple to enforce a ‘distancing policy’ at Tulista. One boat on the dock at a time, two metres between any other people waiting for launch/recovery. It’s not rocket science – hell, every business that’s currently open has learned the program. “Who’s going to enforce this?” you ask. Well, I suspect there are a few municipal employees that are under-used right now – that’d be my first choice. If not them, the news tells us about all the folks that are currently unemployed – surely something could be worked out.

May I suggest that you recognize that boating can be a method to both socially distance and to provide an a bit of relief in these troubling times, and that you rescind the closure of Tulista? There’s a way to make this a win-win situation for everyone here. Deciding to take a myopic view isn’t it.

Mike Pearson

North Saanich

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