2010
Appendix A
OAKVILLE HARBOURS
FINANCIAL STRATEGIC
BUSINESS PLAN
Town of Oakville
DRAFT
HEMSON C o n s u l t i n g L t d.
TOURISTICS
March 2010
HEMSON
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
II OVERVIEW OF HARBOUR FACILITIES AND OPERATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
A. Bronte Harbour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
B. Oakville Harbour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
C. Current Organization and Operational Arrangements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
III CURRENT HARBOUR POLICIES, PRACTICES AND OPERATING MODELS . . 13
A. Current Town Policies and Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
B. Roles and Responsibilities of the Harbours Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
C. Current Operating Structure Is Appropriate Given
Oakville’s Harbours Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
IV OPERATIONAL REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
A. Oakville’s Harbours Provide All Key Marine Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
B. Dredging Is a Crucial Issue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
C. Harbours Section Organization and Staffing Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
V FINANCIAL REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
A. Review of Previous Operating Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
B. Recommended Changes Will Help Ensure Long-term Sustainability . . . . . 31
C. Financial Sustainability Is Attainable over the Long Term . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
D. Financial Implications of Providing Transient Moorings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
VI SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
A. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
B. Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
APPENDIX
I INTRODUCTION
The Town of Oakville operates two small craft harbours — Oakville and Bronte —
which together contain over 700 boat slips. It has been a long-standing policy of the
Town that the two harbours operate on a self-sufficient basis. In recent years this has
become increasingly difficult. In particular, the costs of dredging have been increasing
at a rate much faster that inflation and the costs of future replacements of pier and
dockwalls will be extremely high. With the prospect of these cost pressures and the need
to meet new PSAB1 reporting requirements, the Town decided that a long business plan
for the Harbours Section is required. Hemson Consulting Ltd. in conjunction with
Touristics was retained to prepare the plan and the report that follows provides the
results of the analysis and a recommended approach for moving forward.
The report starts with a description of the harbour facilities and the current operating
arrangements. The next section reviews the Town’s existing policies and procedures and
evaluates various operating models. The third section examines specific operational
issues. It also considers the Town’s harbours operations in comparison to the market in
and around the GTA. This is followed by a financial analysis and a 10-year capital and
operating projection. The financial projection is based on operating arrangements for
the Harbours Section that incorporate recommended changes. The report gives
particular attention to dredging which has an especially significant effect on the
financial performance the harbours. The last section of the report provides a summary
of the conclusions and recommendations.
It is important to note that the scope of the study is limited to the preparation of a
business plan for the existing harbour operations. The report does not consider the
feasibility of developing additional facilities. Nor is this study intended to be a physical
master planning exercise. Nevertheless, the analysis and the proposed business plan do
provide background and a framework that will be useful to future harbour planning
studies.
II OVERVIEW OF HARBOUR
FACILITIES & OPERATIONS
Oakville and Bronte Harbours have played a central role in the development of
Oakville for over a hundred and fifty years1. During the 1800’s the harbours were a focus
of commercial activities. These activities included boat building and shipping of timber
and grain. Bronte was home to an active commercial fishing industry which continued
until just after World War II. Stonehooking — the mining for shale for use in the
construction industry — was undertaken until World War I. Both Oakville and Bronte
have also had a long association with commercial and pleasure boat building. By the
1870's Oakville had become a resort town and yacht races between Toronto and
Oakville were extremely popular events that stimulated these activities. Later between
1960 and 2000 pleasure boat-building flourished through the activities of well-known
companies such as C&C, Grampian and Bruckman.
This section of the report focuses on the harbours as they are today. It is divided into
three parts. The first two parts provide descriptions of the Bronte and Oakville harbour
facilities. The third part describes how the harbours are currently operated.
A. BRONTE HARBOUR
Bronte Harbour is located at the west end of Oakville at the mouth of Bronte Creek.
It lies west of the community’s commercial area south of Lakeshore Road West between
West River Street and Bronte Road. The harbour is divided by the creek into two areas
as shown on Map 1. As the map also illustrates the harbour is adjacent to Bronte Bluffs
and Bronte Beach Parks. Bronte Beach Park and a portion of the harbour is leased from
the Government of Canada (Federal Government). There is also parkland on the east
side of the harbour entrance. Adjacent to the park is the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina.
It was developed by the Federal Government and then leased to Halton Region.
Currently the Marina, which contains approximately 420 slips, is operated by a private
operator under lease from the Region.
Bronte harbour as it is configured today contains 293 Town-owned moorings the makeup
of which is shown in Table 1. The harbour is very popular with the boating
community and there is a waiting list for slips. In addition to the Town’s mooring, there
are a few private moorings located on the east side of the harbour.
The harbour has an extensive range of facilities and assets. The inventory is summarized in Table 2.
The Oakville Harbours Marina Building (which was formerly known as Metro Marine)
has housed marine-related businesses since the 1940's. Until 2005 it, together with a
number of slips and a boat storage area, was leased to a private operator. After the
Harbours Section took over the building, a pre-fabricated office was added for the use
of the Harbours Section administrative staff. The Marina Building is in need of major
refurbishment. Architectural concept plans have been prepared for rehabilitation.
The Harbours Section operates all moorings within the harbour with the exception of
18 wet moorings leased to the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club (BHYC) and the few
privately owned slips located on the east side of the harbour adjacent to Bronte Road.
The BHYC leases land from the Town. Part of this land is occupied by a clubhouse with
the remainder being used for winter storage and parking. The club lease includes a small
area of land on the west side of the creek which is used for the Club’s junior sailing
program.
Bronte Harbour has both strengths and weaknesses which are summarized below.
Strengths
•Attractive setting adjacent to parks and close to Bronte’s downtown area
•A significant number of the moorings are very close to parking
•Some moorings on the north side of the creek have parking adjacent
•Relatively good public access
•Some marine services (located in Oakville Harbours Marina Building)
•Public launch ramp
•Piers which provide opportunities for recreational fishing
Weaknesses
•Requirement for dredging on a seven-year cycle
•Lack of washroom facilities to serve the northern section of the harbour
•Poor condition of the Marina Building
•Limited number of moorings for boats over 40 feet in length
For the future there is some potential to improve the services particularly with a
refurbishment of the Oakville Harbours Marina Building. A fuel dock which existed for
many years could be re-established. However, the environmental and operational
implications, as well as the significant costs are a significant drawback. Fuel for boaters
is available at the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina. There are very limited opportunities
for additional commercial activities with the possible exception of seasonal vending on
the east pier. A concession is locates in the washroom/workshop building on the south
side of the harbour (Bronte Beach Park). However, despite frequent attempts to solicit
a vendor, there has been no private sector interest in operating the concession. The
most recent Parks and Open Space Department concession tender, (February 2010)
yielded no vendor interest in the concession at Bronte Beach Park.
B.OAKVILLE HARBOUR
Oakville Harbour is located at the west end of Oakville’s downtown area. It extends
north along both sides of Sixteen Mile Creek from the mouth of Lake Ontario to
Lakeshore Road East (Map 2) and then along the east bank of the creek around the first
loop just north of Rebecca Street (Map 3). The harbour contains 439 moorings. Of
these 248 are operated by the Harbours Section while the other 191 are split between
three private clubs. The breakdown is shown on Table 3. All the Harbour Section operated
moorings are occupied and there is a waiting list.
Currently, the Harbours Section is responsible for the operation and upkeep of the boat
moorings it operates together with related facilities and assets. These are summarized
in Table 4. Some areas that are the responsibility of the Harbour Section are
intermingled with areas operated by the Parks and Open Space Department.
While Oakville Harbour has a very appealing image which is featured extensively in the
Town’s publicity material, as a marine facility it is arguably not as convenient for either
boaters or the general public. For boaters, because the harbour is in an area that attracts
a considerable amount of pedestrian traffic security is a concern. For the general public
access to the water edge is less than ideal since some sections are blocked off either
because they are privately owned (the Oakville Club) or because they are leased
(Oakville Yacht Club [OYS] and the Oakville Power Boat Club [OPBC]).
Three other organizations occupy space within Oakville Harbour. The Burloak Canoe
Club has a small facility adjacent to the OPBC north of Rebecca Street and
PARDNERS, an organization that provides on-the-water experience to persons with
special needs has an accessible dock under the Rebecca Street bridge. Finally,
TOWARF, a volunteer marine search and rescue service occupies a building in the park
at the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek.
The strengths and weaknesses of Oakville Harbour are summarized as follows.
Strengths
•Proximity to downtown Oakville
•Very attractive setting
•Mix of Town moorings and Boat Club facilities
Weaknesses
•Requirement to be dredged on a ten year cycle
•Constrained area with limited potential for new facilities
•Discontinuous public access to the water’s edge
•Lack of marine services
•Exposed nature of some moorings
•Poor condition of some dockwall sections
Some limited opportunities exist to improve the use of Oakville Harbour. As the
current leases for the boat clubs expire or are renegotiated opportunities to improve
public access to the water’s edge will arise. Additionally, there is some potential for the
harbour area to accommodate a few commercial vending outlets especially during the
summer. As well, because of its prominent position more use could be perhaps made of
the harbour as a venue for town festivals.
CURRENT ORGANIZATION AND OPERATIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
Within the Town’s overall organizational structure the Harbours Section is part of the
Parks and Open Space Department. Day-to-day operations are managed by the
Supervisor of Harbours.
Much of the Harbours Section’s work occurs during two intensive periods. In the spring
docks must be readied for the season and numerous boats have to be launched. In the
fall the process is reversed. Boats have to be lifted out and stored for the winter. During
these two busy periods and through the summer months part-time staff is employed.
Two full-time members of staff are shared on a seasonal basis with business units within
the department. During less busy periods long-term repair and maintenance projects are
undertaken. In addition to regular launch and haul-out services, an on-request service
is provided on a fee basis at Bronte Harbour. Boat owners also have access to the private
marine services located in the Marina Building in Bronte.
In addition to docks and boat moorings, the Harbours Section also maintains all
harbour-related parking lots, walkways, piers and dockwalls. The other major periodic
responsibility of the Harbours Section is to organize the dredging of the two harbours.
In the case of Bronte Harbour this is now required every seven years. For Oakville
Harbour, dredging is on a ten-year cycle.
For 2009, the budget for the Harbours Section operations involved an operating
expenditure of approximately $812,000. In addition, there was a capital-related
requirement of approximately $556,000 to fund debenture payments and capital
contributions. Section V of the report addresses financial aspects in detail.
III CURRENT HARBOUR POLICIES &
OPERATING MODELS FOR THE FUTURE
In this section the policies and practices that currently guide the operation of Oakville’s
harbours are reviewed. Most importantly, the section examines whether these
arrangements should be continued or modified or instead an alternative operating
model should be adopted. As was noted previously, both harbours have been in
operation for over 150 years. In the pre-railway era they were busy commercial harbours.
Bronte Harbour contained a significant marine-related business well into the 1970s.
The focus of Oakville Harbour since the 1870s has been more towards “pleasure and
competition”. Boat clubs have been a presence in Oakville Harbour for many decades
— the Oakville Club was established in 1854 and the Oakville Yacht Squadron in 1947.
A. CURRENT TOWN POLICIES AND PRACTICES
The Town’s policy approach to the harbours has been articulated through a series of
plans including the following dating from 1994:
• 1994 Oakville Harbour Master Plan
• 1998 Business Plan
• 1999 Bronte Harbour Master Plan
• 2006 Town of Oakville Official Plan
• 2009 Livable Oakville
A number of objectives for the harbours are common to the various plans:
• Maintaining a balance between the interests of boaters and non-boaters
• Provision of a safe and attractive environment
• Enhancement of the tourism potential of the harbours
Most importantly, the various plans identify financial self-sufficiency as a goal for the
Harbours Section. For a long time the Town has operated the two harbours on a mixed
municipal-private basis. While the arrangements for the canoe club and PARDNERS
are recent, the leases for the three major boat clubs are much older. They date from
1962, 1990, and 1992 and will expire between 2010 and 2015. In view of these expiry
dates a strategic review of the harbours operations is particularly timely.
B. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE HARBOURS SECTION
Before examining potential operating models it is important to first consider the
fundamental question as to whether the existing focus of the harbours on boating
activities should be continued. Consideration of this issue also helps in addressing
which components of the harbours should be the responsibility of the Harbours Section.
The role of boating in the harbours also warrants review because it is this activity that
creates the need for dredging which is largely responsible for the large cost increases that
are undermining the financial self-sufficiency of the harbours.
Perhaps the prime reason for continuing to maintain active boat-oriented harbours is
heritage — they have been a part of Oakville for over 150 years. A second reason is that
they provide facilities for Oakville residents for which there are no real alternatives. As
is discussed later in the report there is a general shortage of boat mooring and storage
facilities in the GTA. More broadly, the appeal of Oakville as a community is
undoubtedly enhanced by having such significant boating facilities. While phasing out
boating would potentially free up land for public park space, the requirement to
maintain the seawalls and piers would not go away and added park area would also
involve operating and capital costs. The only major saving would come from the
reduction or elimination of dredging expenses.1
Irrespective that there is no compelling financial advantage from eliminating boating
operations from the harbours, the non-financial benefit to Oakville of maintaining the
current harbour operations substantially outweigh any disadvantages. However, if, as
this report concludes, the harbours should continue to provide boating facilities it is
important to recognize that the use involves more than just boats and moorings during
the boating season. As full service harbours they require a range of facilities including:
1Dredging has been a fact of life for Oakville’s harbours since they were established; the first being
undertaken in 1846.
1962, 1990, and 1992 and will expire between 2010 and 2015. In view of these expiry
dates a strategic review of the harbours operations is particularly timely.
B. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE HARBOURS SECTION
Before examining potential operating models it is important to first consider the
fundamental question as to whether the existing focus of the harbours on boating
activities should be continued. Consideration of this issue also helps in addressing
which components of the harbours should be the responsibility of the Harbours Section.
The role of boating in the harbours also warrants review because it is this activity that
creates the need for dredging which is largely responsible for the large cost increases that
are undermining the financial self-sufficiency of the harbours.
Perhaps the prime reason for continuing to maintain active boat-oriented harbours is
heritage — they have been a part of Oakville for over 150 years. A second reason is that
they provide facilities for Oakville residents for which there are no real alternatives. As
is discussed later in the report there is a general shortage of boat mooring and storage
facilities in the GTA. More broadly, the appeal of Oakville as a community is
undoubtedly enhanced by having such significant boating facilities. While phasing out
boating would potentially free up land for public park space, the requirement to
maintain the seawalls and piers would not go away and added park area would also
involve operating and capital costs. The only major saving would come from the
reduction or elimination of dredging expenses.1
Irrespective that there is no compelling financial advantage from eliminating boating
operations from the harbours, the non-financial benefit to Oakville of maintaining the
current harbour operations substantially outweigh any disadvantages. However, if, as
this report concludes, the harbours should continue to provide boating facilities it is
important to recognize that the use involves more than just boats and moorings during
the boating season. As full service harbours they require a range of facilities including:
• Winter boat storage areas
• Summer parking lots
• Washrooms
• Operating equipment
•Operational maintenance and repair facilities
However, as is discussed in more detail later in the report it is recommended that the
Harbours Section should no longer be responsible for the repair, maintenance and
replacement of the basic harbour infrastructure (piers and seawalls) since they would
continue to be required with or without boating operations. In other words, they are a
part of the Town’s basic infrastructure and therefore should be maintained by the
community as a whole. Conversely, all other capital assets that are required to support
boating operations should be the full responsibility of the Harbours Section. This
recommended division of responsibilities would be a change from the existing
arrangement. To date the Harbours Section has been responsible for the seawalls and
piers (with the possible exception of those sections that are within the areas that are
leased). It has also undertaken significant parkland redevelopment in both Oakville and
Bronte harbours. In recommending this change it is important to also emphasize that
the need to repair and maintain the infrastructure will continue and the cost to the
Town will be high. For this reason the financial projections discussed later in the report
identify these costs.
C.CURRENT OPERATING STRUCTURE IS APPROPRIATE GIVEN OAKVILLE’S HARBOURS ENVIRONMENT
Under the current operating structure Oakville’s harbours are divided between areas
operated by the Harbours Section and areas under long-term leases to private boat clubs.
This section reviews the appropriateness of these arrangements in comparison to
alternative models.
1.Oakville in the GTA Context
To provide some context to the current arrangements in the Oakville harbours relative
to harbours and marinas elsewhere, Tables 5 and 6 show the overall breakdown of
ownership and operation of marinas and boat clubs within 50 km of Oakville.
Table 6 compares Oakville’s operating arrangements with the situation in the broader
market.
As Table 6 shows, the share of slips operated by the Town (i.e. publicly operated) is far
greater than across the broad GTA market. Conversely, the proportion of slips leased
to private clubs in Oakville is much lower than in other harbours and marinas.
2. Alternative Operating Models
While the current Town/Club operating structure appears to have worked reasonably
well for many decades, a number of alternative operating models could be considered:
• Contracting-out all harbours operation
• Gradually assuming Town control of all areas as club leases expire
• Gradually assuming Town control of moorings as club leases expire but continuing
to lease clubhouse areas
The strengths and weaknesses of each of these options are discussed below:
a) Full Contracting-out
Under this model the Town would continue to lease areas to the existing private
clubs and would contract out the Town-operated areas to a private operator.
Such an arrangement would relieve the Town of a significant operational
responsibility. For municipally-owned facilities that have clearly delineated selfcontained
operations such as golf courses or hockey arenas, arrangements of this
type are quite common and often work well. However, Oakville’s harbours are illsuited
to this model for a number of reasons:
• Both harbours are physically integrated with Town parks.
• Aspects of the Harbours Section’s activities extend beyond operation of the
Town-operated moorings. Most notably, dredging is required for both the
Town and boat club operated areas.
• The Town would likely have difficulty distancing itself in the public’s mind
from harbour operations unless the harbours were to be fenced off and clearly
identified as being under private management.
• A private operator would likely require public access to be more restricted
than under the current operating structure. This would run contrary to the
Town’s objective of providing public access to the water’s edge.
• A private operator would have to have a strong expectation of making a profit
which, given current and future cost pressures, is uncertain.
By comparison, the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina which is leased from the Federal
Government by Halton Region readily lends itself to private operation as it is
clearly delineated and is self-contained. Accordingly, given Oakville harbours’
particular physical characteristics, adopting a fully privatized structure is considered
neither a viable nor a desirable option.
b)Town-operated Moorings and Leased Areas for Club Facilities
The second alternative operating model to the current arrangement would be for
the Harbours Section to take over control of all moorings within the two harbours
as the current club leases expire. This would mainly affect Oakville Harbour since
in Bronte all but a few moorings are already operated by the Harbours Section. The
Town could continue to lease the areas used for clubhouse facilities (generally the
club buildings and the parking lots which are used for boat storage during the
winter). This is the type of arrangement that currently applies to the BHYC.
The approach is considered a workable alternative to the existing arrangements in
Oakville Harbour. For the Harbours Section it would increase the number of
moorings it operates by about 30%. Revenues and expenditures would increase
accordingly. However, since any future leases with the boat clubs under the
existing structure would produce higher revenues than under the existing leases a
greater level of self-sufficiency would not necessarily be achieved by taking over
the club-operated moorings. For boat owners who are not club members, additional
slips might become available. As well, public water’s edge access could be
improved.
However, the boat clubs are very unlikely to favour such arrangements. It would
certainly reduce member control over moorings, would restrict their ability to
control costs and could jeopardize the overall viability of some of the clubs.
It should also be recognized that the clubs have not only been a longstanding part
of Oakville’s network of community organizations but also play an important role
in training young people to sail and in raising money for charities.
On balance, there is no compelling benefit to be gained from taking over the cluboperated
moorings. Such a change would necessitate increasing the scale of the
Harbours Section’s operations and could jeopardize the future of boat clubs which have
long been a part of the Oakville community. While improved public access could be
achieved, the same result may also be obtained through lease negotiations
3.Long-term Growth Strategy
The Town owns the bulk of the land in the two harbours. In Oakville the exception is
the Oakville Club which owns most of the property it occupies. In Bronte the Town
leases Bronte Beach Park, a portion of parking and some of the mooring area from the
Federal Government as shown on Map 1. The Federal Government also owns the
Bronte Outer Harbour Marina and leases it to Halton Region which in turn sub-leases
it to a private operator. Finally, a small area on the east side of Bronte Harbour is
privately owned. While there is no operational imperative to own additional land in
either harbour, the Town should consider acquiring additional properties should the
opportunity arise. The Federally-owned lands (including the Bronte Outer Harbour
Marina) would be the most worthwhile acquisitions. With Small Craft Harbours
divesting itself from small harbours, the Town is in an excellent position to acquire the
federal lands.
___________________
Based on the review of the current operating arrangements and the most realistic
alternative options the current structure is considered to be the one best suited to
Oakville’s two harbours given their physical configurations and the limited benefits that
could be obtained under an alternative operating structure. This conclusion is
strengthened by the fact that the current operating structure is in keeping with the
mixed public–private approach that is prevalent across the GTA harbour and marina
market.
IV OPERATIONAL REVIEW
This chapter examines the Harbour Section’s operations. In the first part its operations
are reviewed in relation to trends in the GTA boating market. Secondly, the services
provided, the maintenance and repair responsibilities and the organization and staffing
structure of the Harbours Section are examined.
A.OAKVILLE’S HARBOURS PROVIDE ALL KEY MARINE SERVICES
Boat owners in Oakville’s two harbours have access to a full range of boat handling and
storage services on both a seasonal and on-demand basis. Of other services that marinas
provide fuelling facilities, and public food and beverage outlets are the most significant.
As well, Oakville also does not have marine supply and repair services available. A
pump out facility operates on a part-time basis in Oakville. However, the absence of
some of these services reflects the fact that the two harbours are largely oriented towards
the seasonal rather than transient boating market1.
Figures 1 and 2 illustrate the scope and availability of services in marinas within 50
kilometres of Oakville and Bronte Harbours.
The size of boats that the two harbours can accommodate is less than ideal in terms of
market trends. As shown on Figure 3, the distribution of boats by length is heavily
skewed towards those 30 feet and less. The average length is 27 feet. In the broad
boating market, the average is 30 feet and the trend is upwards. Nevertheless, demand
for moorings in both Bronte and Oakville remains strong as evidenced by the fact that
for many years there has been a waiting list for moorings. This situation has persisted
even during the recent economic downturn.
A illustrated in Table 7, the share of Town moorings that are occupied by Oakville
residents is very high. Additionally, over 85% of club operated moorings are reportedly
occupied by Oakville residents.
Across the GTA market marina occupancy levels are close to capacity. In future years
as the population of Oakville and the broader region grows, the shortage of marina
capacity is very likely to increase unless additional capacity is developed.
How the Town might address the shortage of moorings for Oakville residents is complex
and beyond the scope of this business plan. However, a partial solution could be to
restrict occupancy to Oakville residents. This could yield about 30% more capacity in
Bronte and 20% more in Oakville. Such a change would, however, have financial
implications as non-residents pay 10% more for moorings than residents. If the Town
were able to acquire the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina from the Federal Government,
additional mooring capacity for Oakville residents could become available to the extent
that some of the slips in the Marina are being used by non-residents. A third option of
building additional moorings (as was done with the Bronte Outer-Harbour Marina)
would however be a significant challenge. Such a new marina would undoubtedly
require to an extensive environmental assessment process and the costs of construction
would probably be difficult to justify given the potential revenues.
B.DREDGING IS A CRUCIAL ISSUE
Both Oakville and Bronte Harbours require periodic dredging in order to maintain the
depths necessary for boating operations. Currently, Oakville Harbour needs to be
dredged about every ten years. Bronte Harbour now requires dredging about every seven
years whereas in previous periods it was at ten-year intervals. There is no agreed upon
explanation for this change.
Table 8 below sets out the dredging history and costs for the harbours since 1983. It
shows that dredging costs have risen steeply over the period. The steep increases are
partly a consequence of reduced competition in the dredging business and partly the
result of more stringent environmental requirements. In particular, the Federal
Government’s prohibition on the disposal of dredge material in the lake reportedly had
a significant effect on costs. Were costs to continue rising at the rate experience in the
last number of years, the long-term viability of the harbours could be compromised.
Dredging is the responsibility of the Harbours Section. To pay for them ten-year
debentures have been issued and then reimbursed partly from annual revenues and
partly from reserves. The boat clubs have also been making voluntary contributions
towards dredging costs on a per-boat basis. The drawback to this debenture-based
funding model is that for Bronte the frequency of dredges is shorter than the ten-year
term of the debentures. As a result one debenture is not fully paid off before another
must be issued. The consequence is that in “overlap” years the combined debenture
payments are very onerous.
Irrespective of other possible changes to dredging arrangements it is recommended the
Harbours Section budget for dredging costs on a stabilized basis. Under such an
approach, reserves should be accumulated in the years when only one debenture is being
paid for. The accumulated reserves can then be used to help cover the double payments
required during “overlap” years. It is also recommended that in renegotiating club leases,
provision be made to require the clubs to pay an appropriate annual share of dredging
costs.
In light of the importance of dredging to the harbours and the scale of the costs
involved it is further recommended that a detailed review be undertaken of the dredging
issue. This review should, among other things, consider:
• Are there alternative less costly ways to handle dredging over the long term? For
example, the use of a small dredger on an annual basis might enable the interval
between major dredges to be extended.
• Could the Federal Government be persuaded to again permit disposal of dredge
material in the lake?
• Would it be cost-effective and practical to operate a collective dredging operation
with other GTA municipalities that have dredging requirements?
C.HARBOURS SECTION ORGANIZATION AND STAFFING MODEL
The Harbours Section reports through the Director of Parks and Open Space to the
Commissioner of Community Services and ultimately to Council.
Additionally, the Oakville Harbours Advisory Committee advises Council on matters
pertaining to harbour operations. Its membership has representation from Council and
from the public. The Committee performs a valuable role since it has the experience
and time to consider harbour-related matters in more depth than other council
committees. The Committee also acts as a forum for the boating community and others
to present their views. For these reasons, the current role and make-up of the
Committee should be continued.
Currently the Harbours Section is managed by the Harbour Master who is assisted by
an administrator. Outside operations are carried out by two full-time staff members and
two part-time staff who undertake harbours work for eight months and work for another
section during the remainder of the year. Additional part-time employees and students
are taken on during the busy period of the year. Figure 4 shows the staffing and
organizational structure.
Staffing levels in other marinas were compared to the Harbours Section. The review
indicated that Oakville’s staffing levels are slightly below the norm particularly when
the complexity of its two-harbour operation is taken into account. However, the
absence of transient slips in the Oakville harbours somewhat balances this factor as it
reduces management, administration and service requirements.
The current Harbour Master is retiring very soon and will be difficult to replace given
his depth of experience and his ability to perform every aspect of the work involved in
operating the harbours. The very experienced Harbour Administrator will also be
retiring in the near future. Through a comprehensive analysis of the Parks and Open
Space Department structure, the Harbours and Cemeteries Sections have been
combined into one business section, under a Manager, Harbours and Cemeteries. These
sections have very similar business procedures and both operate with minimal support
from the tax levy. In addition, both sections are focussed on providing high-level
customer service. Also, through the restructuring process, the Harbours Section
recruited for a new Harbours Supervisor. The primary focus of the Manager, Harbours
and Cemeteries will be the business and strategic planning aspect of operations. The
Supervisor of Harbours will be responsible for the day-to-day operations, including the
yards, for Oakville and Bronte Harbours.
Based on the Parks and Open Space Department restructuring and taking account of the
staffing levels maintained in other marinas, no need for additional staff has been
identified. However, the situation should be carefully monitored after the staff
changeover has been fully implemented to ensure that the necessary service and safety
standards of are being maintained.
___________________
To summarize, it has been concluded from the review that full boating operations
should be maintained in both harbours. Secondly, it is concluded that the existing
municipal–private structure which is in keeping with practice elsewhere in the GTA
should be continued. With respect to the division of responsibilities it is concluded that
the Harbours Section should no longer be directly responsible for basic harbour
infrastructure which instead should be treated as part of the Town-wide infrastructure.
However, the Harbours Section should be responsible for all other capital assets that
support boating operations. This includes items such as dockage, power pedestals, boat
ramps, harbours equipment, electrical and water services and buildings used by boaters.
It should also include a share of the costs of maintaining and repairing walkways,
parking lots, and lighting within the harbours as they are used by both boaters and nonboaters.
Comparisons with marina and harbour facilities within 50 km of Oakville indicate that
Oakville’s harbours are competitive in terms of services, given their non-transient
orientation. However, like other harbours and marinas, they do not have sufficient
capacity to fully satisfy market demand especially moorings for larger boats. This
shortage will probably increase in future years as the Town’s population grows.
In the next section the financial aspects of harbour operations are reviewed with
particular emphasis on long-term asset replacement costs, mooring and storage fee rates
and on club lease arrangements.

2010Appendix A
OAKVILLE HARBOURSFINANCIAL STRATEGICBUSINESS PLAN

Town of Oakville

DRAFT
HEMSON C o n s u l t i n g L t d.

TOURISTICS
March 2010

 

 

HEMSON

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

II OVERVIEW OF HARBOUR FACILITIES AND OPERATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

A. Bronte Harbour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

B. Oakville Harbour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

C. Current Organization and Operational Arrangements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

III CURRENT HARBOUR POLICIES, PRACTICES AND OPERATING MODELS . . 13

A. Current Town Policies and Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

B. Roles and Responsibilities of the Harbours Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

C. Current Operating Structure Is Appropriate Given

Oakville’s Harbours Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

IV OPERATIONAL REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

A. Oakville’s Harbours Provide All Key Marine Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

B. Dredging Is a Crucial Issue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

C. Harbours Section Organization and Staffing Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

V FINANCIAL REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

A. Review of Previous Operating Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

B. Recommended Changes Will Help Ensure Long-term Sustainability . . . . . 31

C. Financial Sustainability Is Attainable over the Long Term . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

D. Financial Implications of Providing Transient Moorings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

VI SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

A. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

B. Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

APPENDIX

 





I INTRODUCTION
The Town of Oakville operates two small craft harbours — Oakville and Bronte —which together contain over 700 boat slips. It has been a long-standing policy of theTown that the two harbours operate on a self-sufficient basis. In recent years this hasbecome increasingly difficult. In particular, the costs of dredging have been increasingat a rate much faster that inflation and the costs of future replacements of pier anddockwalls will be extremely high. With the prospect of these cost pressures and the needto meet new PSAB1 reporting requirements, the Town decided that a long business planfor the Harbours Section is required. Hemson Consulting Ltd. in conjunction withTouristics was retained to prepare the plan and the report that follows provides theresults of the analysis and a recommended approach for moving forward.The report starts with a description of the harbour facilities and the current operatingarrangements. The next section reviews the Town’s existing policies and procedures andevaluates various operating models. The third section examines specific operationalissues. It also considers the Town’s harbours operations in comparison to the market inand around the GTA. This is followed by a financial analysis and a 10-year capital andoperating projection. The financial projection is based on operating arrangements forthe Harbours Section that incorporate recommended changes. The report givesparticular attention to dredging which has an especially significant effect on thefinancial performance the harbours. The last section of the report provides a summaryof the conclusions and recommendations.It is important to note that the scope of the study is limited to the preparation of abusiness plan for the existing harbour operations. The report does not consider thefeasibility of developing additional facilities. Nor is this study intended to be a physicalmaster planning exercise. Nevertheless, the analysis and the proposed business plan doprovide background and a framework that will be useful to future harbour planningstudies.
II OVERVIEW OF HARBOURFACILITIES & OPERATIONS
Oakville and Bronte Harbours have played a central role in the development ofOakville for over a hundred and fifty years1. During the 1800’s the harbours were a focusof commercial activities. These activities included boat building and shipping of timberand grain. Bronte was home to an active commercial fishing industry which continueduntil just after World War II. Stonehooking — the mining for shale for use in theconstruction industry — was undertaken until World War I. Both Oakville and Brontehave also had a long association with commercial and pleasure boat building. By the1870's Oakville had become a resort town and yacht races between Toronto andOakville were extremely popular events that stimulated these activities. Later between1960 and 2000 pleasure boat-building flourished through the activities of well-knowncompanies such as C&C, Grampian and Bruckman.This section of the report focuses on the harbours as they are today. It is divided intothree parts. The first two parts provide descriptions of the Bronte and Oakville harbourfacilities. The third part describes how the harbours are currently operated.A. BRONTE HARBOURBronte Harbour is located at the west end of Oakville at the mouth of Bronte Creek.It lies west of the community’s commercial area south of Lakeshore Road West betweenWest River Street and Bronte Road. The harbour is divided by the creek into two areasas shown on Map 1. As the map also illustrates the harbour is adjacent to Bronte Bluffsand Bronte Beach Parks. Bronte Beach Park and a portion of the harbour is leased fromthe Government of Canada (Federal Government). There is also parkland on the eastside of the harbour entrance. Adjacent to the park is the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina.It was developed by the Federal Government and then leased to Halton Region.Currently the Marina, which contains approximately 420 slips, is operated by a privateoperator under lease from the Region.Bronte harbour as it is configured today contains 293 Town-owned moorings the makeupof which is shown in Table 1. The harbour is very popular with the boatingcommunity and there is a waiting list for slips. In addition to the Town’s mooring, thereare a few private moorings located on the east side of the harbour.Picture_13

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The harbour has an extensive range of facilities and assets. The inventory is summarized in Table 2.

Picture_15
The Oakville Harbours Marina Building (which was formerly known as Metro Marine)has housed marine-related businesses since the 1940's. Until 2005 it, together with anumber of slips and a boat storage area, was leased to a private operator. After theHarbours Section took over the building, a pre-fabricated office was added for the useof the Harbours Section administrative staff. The Marina Building is in need of majorrefurbishment. Architectural concept plans have been prepared for rehabilitation.The Harbours Section operates all moorings within the harbour with the exception of18 wet moorings leased to the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club (BHYC) and the fewprivately owned slips located on the east side of the harbour adjacent to Bronte Road.The BHYC leases land from the Town. Part of this land is occupied by a clubhouse withthe remainder being used for winter storage and parking. The club lease includes a smallarea of land on the west side of the creek which is used for the Club’s junior sailingprogram.
Bronte Harbour has both strengths and weaknesses which are summarized below.
Strengths
•Attractive setting adjacent to parks and close to Bronte’s downtown area•A significant number of the moorings are very close to parking•Some moorings on the north side of the creek have parking adjacent•Relatively good public access•Some marine services (located in Oakville Harbours Marina Building)•Public launch ramp•Piers which provide opportunities for recreational fishing

Weaknesses
•Requirement for dredging on a seven-year cycle•Lack of washroom facilities to serve the northern section of the harbour•Poor condition of the Marina Building•Limited number of moorings for boats over 40 feet in length

For the future there is some potential to improve the services particularly with arefurbishment of the Oakville Harbours Marina Building. A fuel dock which existed formany years could be re-established. However, the environmental and operationalimplications, as well as the significant costs are a significant drawback. Fuel for boatersis available at the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina. There are very limited opportunitiesfor additional commercial activities with the possible exception of seasonal vending onthe east pier. A concession is locates in the washroom/workshop building on the southside of the harbour (Bronte Beach Park). However, despite frequent attempts to solicita vendor, there has been no private sector interest in operating the concession. Themost recent Parks and Open Space Department concession tender, (February 2010)yielded no vendor interest in the concession at Bronte Beach Park.


B.OAKVILLE HARBOUR

Oakville Harbour is located at the west end of Oakville’s downtown area. It extendsnorth along both sides of Sixteen Mile Creek from the mouth of Lake Ontario toLakeshore Road East (Map 2) and then along the east bank of the creek around the firstloop just north of Rebecca Street (Map 3). The harbour contains 439 moorings. Ofthese 248 are operated by the Harbours Section while the other 191 are split betweenthree private clubs. The breakdown is shown on Table 3. All the Harbour Section operatedmoorings are occupied and there is a waiting list.
Currently, the Harbours Section is responsible for the operation and upkeep of the boatmoorings it operates together with related facilities and assets. These are summarizedin Table 4. Some areas that are the responsibility of the Harbour Section areintermingled with areas operated by the Parks and Open Space Department.

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While Oakville Harbour has a very appealing image which is featured extensively in theTown’s publicity material, as a marine facility it is arguably not as convenient for eitherboaters or the general public. For boaters, because the harbour is in an area that attractsa considerable amount of pedestrian traffic security is a concern. For the general publicaccess to the water edge is less than ideal since some sections are blocked off eitherbecause they are privately owned (the Oakville Club) or because they are leased(Oakville Yacht Club [OYS] and the Oakville Power Boat Club [OPBC]).Three other organizations occupy space within Oakville Harbour. The Burloak CanoeClub has a small facility adjacent to the OPBC north of Rebecca Street andPARDNERS, an organization that provides on-the-water experience to persons withspecial needs has an accessible dock under the Rebecca Street bridge. Finally,TOWARF, a volunteer marine search and rescue service occupies a building in the parkat the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek.
The strengths and weaknesses of Oakville Harbour are summarized as follows.
Strengths
•Proximity to downtown Oakville•Very attractive setting•Mix of Town moorings and Boat Club facilities

Weaknesses
•Requirement to be dredged on a ten year cycle•Constrained area with limited potential for new facilities•Discontinuous public access to the water’s edge•Lack of marine services•Exposed nature of some moorings•Poor condition of some dockwall sections
Some limited opportunities exist to improve the use of Oakville Harbour. As thecurrent leases for the boat clubs expire or are renegotiated opportunities to improvepublic access to the water’s edge will arise. Additionally, there is some potential for theharbour area to accommodate a few commercial vending outlets especially during thesummer. As well, because of its prominent position more use could be perhaps made ofthe harbour as a venue for town festivals.


CURRENT ORGANIZATION AND OPERATIONAL ARRANGEMENTS

Within the Town’s overall organizational structure the Harbours Section is part of theParks and Open Space Department. Day-to-day operations are managed by theSupervisor of Harbours.Much of the Harbours Section’s work occurs during two intensive periods. In the springdocks must be readied for the season and numerous boats have to be launched. In thefall the process is reversed. Boats have to be lifted out and stored for the winter. Duringthese two busy periods and through the summer months part-time staff is employed.Two full-time members of staff are shared on a seasonal basis with business units withinthe department. During less busy periods long-term repair and maintenance projects areundertaken. In addition to regular launch and haul-out services, an on-request serviceis provided on a fee basis at Bronte Harbour. Boat owners also have access to the privatemarine services located in the Marina Building in Bronte.
In addition to docks and boat moorings, the Harbours Section also maintains allharbour-related parking lots, walkways, piers and dockwalls. The other major periodicresponsibility of the Harbours Section is to organize the dredging of the two harbours.In the case of Bronte Harbour this is now required every seven years. For OakvilleHarbour, dredging is on a ten-year cycle.For 2009, the budget for the Harbours Section operations involved an operatingexpenditure of approximately $812,000. In addition, there was a capital-relatedrequirement of approximately $556,000 to fund debenture payments and capitalcontributions. Section V of the report addresses financial aspects in detail.


III CURRENT HARBOUR POLICIES &OPERATING MODELS FOR THE FUTURE


In this section the policies and practices that currently guide the operation of Oakville’sharbours are reviewed. Most importantly, the section examines whether thesearrangements should be continued or modified or instead an alternative operatingmodel should be adopted. As was noted previously, both harbours have been inoperation for over 150 years. In the pre-railway era they were busy commercial harbours.Bronte Harbour contained a significant marine-related business well into the 1970s.The focus of Oakville Harbour since the 1870s has been more towards “pleasure andcompetition”. Boat clubs have been a presence in Oakville Harbour for many decades— the Oakville Club was established in 1854 and the Oakville Yacht Squadron in 1947.


A. CURRENT TOWN POLICIES AND PRACTICES

 

The Town’s policy approach to the harbours has been articulated through a series ofplans including the following dating from 1994:• 1994 Oakville Harbour Master Plan• 1998 Business Plan• 1999 Bronte Harbour Master Plan• 2006 Town of Oakville Official Plan• 2009 Livable OakvilleA number of objectives for the harbours are common to the various plans:• Maintaining a balance between the interests of boaters and non-boaters• Provision of a safe and attractive environment• Enhancement of the tourism potential of the harboursMost importantly, the various plans identify financial self-sufficiency as a goal for theHarbours Section. For a long time the Town has operated the two harbours on a mixedmunicipal-private basis. While the arrangements for the canoe club and PARDNERSare recent, the leases for the three major boat clubs are much older. They date from1962, 1990, and 1992 and will expire between 2010 and 2015. In view of these expirydates a strategic review of the harbours operations is particularly timely.B. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE HARBOURS SECTIONBefore examining potential operating models it is important to first consider thefundamental question as to whether the existing focus of the harbours on boatingactivities should be continued. Consideration of this issue also helps in addressingwhich components of the harbours should be the responsibility of the Harbours Section.The role of boating in the harbours also warrants review because it is this activity thatcreates the need for dredging which is largely responsible for the large cost increases thatare undermining the financial self-sufficiency of the harbours.Perhaps the prime reason for continuing to maintain active boat-oriented harbours isheritage — they have been a part of Oakville for over 150 years. A second reason is thatthey provide facilities for Oakville residents for which there are no real alternatives. Asis discussed later in the report there is a general shortage of boat mooring and storagefacilities in the GTA. More broadly, the appeal of Oakville as a community isundoubtedly enhanced by having such significant boating facilities. While phasing outboating would potentially free up land for public park space, the requirement tomaintain the seawalls and piers would not go away and added park area would alsoinvolve operating and capital costs. The only major saving would come from thereduction or elimination of dredging expenses.1Irrespective that there is no compelling financial advantage from eliminating boatingoperations from the harbours, the non-financial benefit to Oakville of maintaining thecurrent harbour operations substantially outweigh any disadvantages. However, if, asthis report concludes, the harbours should continue to provide boating facilities it isimportant to recognize that the use involves more than just boats and moorings duringthe boating season. As full service harbours they require a range of facilities including:


1 Dredging has been a fact of life for Oakville’s harbours since they were established; the first beingundertaken in 1846.


1962, 1990, and 1992 and will expire between 2010 and 2015. In view of these expirydates a strategic review of the harbours operations is particularly timely.B. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE HARBOURS SECTIONBefore examining potential operating models it is important to first consider thefundamental question as to whether the existing focus of the harbours on boatingactivities should be continued. Consideration of this issue also helps in addressingwhich components of the harbours should be the responsibility of the Harbours Section.The role of boating in the harbours also warrants review because it is this activity thatcreates the need for dredging which is largely responsible for the large cost increases thatare undermining the financial self-sufficiency of the harbours.Perhaps the prime reason for continuing to maintain active boat-oriented harbours isheritage — they have been a part of Oakville for over 150 years. A second reason is thatthey provide facilities for Oakville residents for which there are no real alternatives. Asis discussed later in the report there is a general shortage of boat mooring and storagefacilities in the GTA. More broadly, the appeal of Oakville as a community isundoubtedly enhanced by having such significant boating facilities. While phasing outboating would potentially free up land for public park space, the requirement tomaintain the seawalls and piers would not go away and added park area would alsoinvolve operating and capital costs. The only major saving would come from thereduction or elimination of dredging expenses.1Irrespective that there is no compelling financial advantage from eliminating boatingoperations from the harbours, the non-financial benefit to Oakville of maintaining thecurrent harbour operations substantially outweigh any disadvantages. However, if, asthis report concludes, the harbours should continue to provide boating facilities it isimportant to recognize that the use involves more than just boats and moorings duringthe boating season. As full service harbours they require a range of facilities including:


• Winter boat storage areas• Summer parking lots• Washrooms• Operating equipment•Operational maintenance and repair facilities

However, as is discussed in more detail later in the report it is recommended that theHarbours Section should no longer be responsible for the repair, maintenance andreplacement of the basic harbour infrastructure (piers and seawalls) since they wouldcontinue to be required with or without boating operations. In other words, they are apart of the Town’s basic infrastructure and therefore should be maintained by thecommunity as a whole. Conversely, all other capital assets that are required to supportboating operations should be the full responsibility of the Harbours Section. Thisrecommended division of responsibilities would be a change from the existingarrangement. To date the Harbours Section has been responsible for the seawalls andpiers (with the possible exception of those sections that are within the areas that areleased). It has also undertaken significant parkland redevelopment in both Oakville andBronte harbours. In recommending this change it is important to also emphasize thatthe need to repair and maintain the infrastructure will continue and the cost to theTown will be high. For this reason the financial projections discussed later in the reportidentify these costs.


C.CURRENT OPERATING STRUCTURE IS APPROPRIATE GIVEN OAKVILLE’S HARBOURS ENVIRONMENT


Under the current operating structure Oakville’s harbours are divided between areasoperated by the Harbours Section and areas under long-term leases to private boat clubs.This section reviews the appropriateness of these arrangements in comparison toalternative models.


1.Oakville in the GTA Context



To provide some context to the current arrangements in the Oakville harbours relativeto harbours and marinas elsewhere, Tables 5 and 6 show the overall breakdown ofownership and operation of marinas and boat clubs within 50 km of Oakville.

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Table 6 compares Oakville’s operating arrangements with the situation in the broadermarket.

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As Table 6 shows, the share of slips operated by the Town (i.e. publicly operated) is fargreater than across the broad GTA market. Conversely, the proportion of slips leasedto private clubs in Oakville is much lower than in other harbours and marinas.2. Alternative Operating ModelsWhile the current Town/Club operating structure appears to have worked reasonablywell for many decades, a number of alternative operating models could be considered:• Contracting-out all harbours operation• Gradually assuming Town control of all areas as club leases expire• Gradually assuming Town control of moorings as club leases expire but continuingto lease clubhouse areasThe strengths and weaknesses of each of these options are discussed below:a) Full Contracting-outUnder this model the Town would continue to lease areas to the existing privateclubs and would contract out the Town-operated areas to a private operator.Such an arrangement would relieve the Town of a significant operationalresponsibility. For municipally-owned facilities that have clearly delineated selfcontainedoperations such as golf courses or hockey arenas, arrangements of thistype are quite common and often work well. However, Oakville’s harbours are illsuitedto this model for a number of reasons:• Both harbours are physically integrated with Town parks.• Aspects of the Harbours Section’s activities extend beyond operation of theTown-operated moorings. Most notably, dredging is required for both theTown and boat club operated areas.• The Town would likely have difficulty distancing itself in the public’s mindfrom harbour operations unless the harbours were to be fenced off and clearlyidentified as being under private management.• A private operator would likely require public access to be more restrictedthan under the current operating structure. This would run contrary to theTown’s objective of providing public access to the water’s edge.• A private operator would have to have a strong expectation of making a profitwhich, given current and future cost pressures, is uncertain.
By comparison, the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina which is leased from the FederalGovernment by Halton Region readily lends itself to private operation as it isclearly delineated and is self-contained. Accordingly, given Oakville harbours’particular physical characteristics, adopting a fully privatized structure is consideredneither a viable nor a desirable option.


b)Town-operated Moorings and Leased Areas for Club Facilities

The second alternative operating model to the current arrangement would be forthe Harbours Section to take over control of all moorings within the two harboursas the current club leases expire. This would mainly affect Oakville Harbour sincein Bronte all but a few moorings are already operated by the Harbours Section. TheTown could continue to lease the areas used for clubhouse facilities (generally theclub buildings and the parking lots which are used for boat storage during thewinter). This is the type of arrangement that currently applies to the BHYC.The approach is considered a workable alternative to the existing arrangements inOakville Harbour. For the Harbours Section it would increase the number ofmoorings it operates by about 30%. Revenues and expenditures would increaseaccordingly. However, since any future leases with the boat clubs under theexisting structure would produce higher revenues than under the existing leases agreater level of self-sufficiency would not necessarily be achieved by taking overthe club-operated moorings. For boat owners who are not club members, additionalslips might become available. As well, public water’s edge access could beimproved.However, the boat clubs are very unlikely to favour such arrangements. It wouldcertainly reduce member control over moorings, would restrict their ability tocontrol costs and could jeopardize the overall viability of some of the clubs.It should also be recognized that the clubs have not only been a longstanding partof Oakville’s network of community organizations but also play an important rolein training young people to sail and in raising money for charities.On balance, there is no compelling benefit to be gained from taking over the cluboperatedmoorings. Such a change would necessitate increasing the scale of theHarbours Section’s operations and could jeopardize the future of boat clubs which havelong been a part of the Oakville community. While improved public access could beachieved, the same result may also be obtained through lease negotiations


3.Long-term Growth Strategy

The Town owns the bulk of the land in the two harbours. In Oakville the exception isthe Oakville Club which owns most of the property it occupies. In Bronte the Townleases Bronte Beach Park, a portion of parking and some of the mooring area from theFederal Government as shown on Map 1. The Federal Government also owns theBronte Outer Harbour Marina and leases it to Halton Region which in turn sub-leasesit to a private operator. Finally, a small area on the east side of Bronte Harbour isprivately owned. While there is no operational imperative to own additional land ineither harbour, the Town should consider acquiring additional properties should theopportunity arise. The Federally-owned lands (including the Bronte Outer HarbourMarina) would be the most worthwhile acquisitions. With Small Craft Harboursdivesting itself from small harbours, the Town is in an excellent position to acquire thefederal lands.___________________Based on the review of the current operating arrangements and the most realisticalternative options the current structure is considered to be the one best suited toOakville’s two harbours given their physical configurations and the limited benefits thatcould be obtained under an alternative operating structure. This conclusion isstrengthened by the fact that the current operating structure is in keeping with themixed public–private approach that is prevalent across the GTA harbour and marinamarket.


IV OPERATIONAL REVIEW


This chapter examines the Harbour Section’s operations. In the first part its operationsare reviewed in relation to trends in the GTA boating market. Secondly, the servicesprovided, the maintenance and repair responsibilities and the organization and staffingstructure of the Harbours Section are examined.
A.OAKVILLE’S HARBOURS PROVIDE ALL KEY MARINE SERVICES

Boat owners in Oakville’s two harbours have access to a full range of boat handling andstorage services on both a seasonal and on-demand basis. Of other services that marinasprovide fuelling facilities, and public food and beverage outlets are the most significant.As well, Oakville also does not have marine supply and repair services available. Apump out facility operates on a part-time basis in Oakville. However, the absence ofsome of these services reflects the fact that the two harbours are largely oriented towardsthe seasonal rather than transient boating market1.Figures 1 and 2 illustrate the scope and availability of services in marinas within 50kilometres of Oakville and Bronte Harbours.

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The size of boats that the two harbours can accommodate is less than ideal in terms ofmarket trends. As shown on Figure 3, the distribution of boats by length is heavilyskewed towards those 30 feet and less. The average length is 27 feet. In the broadboating market, the average is 30 feet and the trend is upwards. Nevertheless, demandfor moorings in both Bronte and Oakville remains strong as evidenced by the fact thatfor many years there has been a waiting list for moorings. This situation has persistedeven during the recent economic downturn.

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A illustrated in Table 7, the share of Town moorings that are occupied by Oakvilleresidents is very high. Additionally, over 85% of club operated moorings are reportedlyoccupied by Oakville residents.
Picture_29Across the GTA market marina occupancy levels are close to capacity. In future yearsas the population of Oakville and the broader region grows, the shortage of marinacapacity is very likely to increase unless additional capacity is developed.How the Town might address the shortage of moorings for Oakville residents is complexand beyond the scope of this business plan. However, a partial solution could be torestrict occupancy to Oakville residents. This could yield about 30% more capacity inBronte and 20% more in Oakville. Such a change would, however, have financialimplications as non-residents pay 10% more for moorings than residents. If the Townwere able to acquire the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina from the Federal Government,additional mooring capacity for Oakville residents could become available to the extentthat some of the slips in the Marina are being used by non-residents. A third option ofbuilding additional moorings (as was done with the Bronte Outer-Harbour Marina)would however be a significant challenge. Such a new marina would undoubtedlyrequire to an extensive environmental assessment process and the costs of constructionwould probably be difficult to justify given the potential revenues.


B.DREDGING IS A CRUCIAL ISSUE

Both Oakville and Bronte Harbours require periodic dredging in order to maintain thedepths necessary for boating operations. Currently, Oakville Harbour needs to bedredged about every ten years. Bronte Harbour now requires dredging about every sevenyears whereas in previous periods it was at ten-year intervals. There is no agreed uponexplanation for this change.Table 8 below sets out the dredging history and costs for the harbours since 1983. Itshows that dredging costs have risen steeply over the period. The steep increases arepartly a consequence of reduced competition in the dredging business and partly theresult of more stringent environmental requirements. In particular, the FederalGovernment’s prohibition on the disposal of dredge material in the lake reportedly hada significant effect on costs. Were costs to continue rising at the rate experience in thelast number of years, the long-term viability of the harbours could be compromised.
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Dredging is the responsibility of the Harbours Section. To pay for them ten-yeardebentures have been issued and then reimbursed partly from annual revenues andpartly from reserves. The boat clubs have also been making voluntary contributionstowards dredging costs on a per-boat basis. The drawback to this debenture-basedfunding model is that for Bronte the frequency of dredges is shorter than the ten-yearterm of the debentures. As a result one debenture is not fully paid off before anothermust be issued. The consequence is that in “overlap” years the combined debenturepayments are very onerous.Irrespective of other possible changes to dredging arrangements it is recommended theHarbours Section budget for dredging costs on a stabilized basis. Under such anapproach, reserves should be accumulated in the years when only one debenture is beingpaid for. The accumulated reserves can then be used to help cover the double paymentsrequired during “overlap” years. It is also recommended that in renegotiating club leases,provision be made to require the clubs to pay an appropriate annual share of dredgingcosts.In light of the importance of dredging to the harbours and the scale of the costsinvolved it is further recommended that a detailed review be undertaken of the dredgingissue. This review should, among other things, consider:
• Are there alternative less costly ways to handle dredging over the long term? Forexample, the use of a small dredger on an annual basis might enable the intervalbetween major dredges to be extended.• Could the Federal Government be persuaded to again permit disposal of dredgematerial in the lake?• Would it be cost-effective and practical to operate a collective dredging operationwith other GTA municipalities that have dredging requirements?


C.HARBOURS SECTION ORGANIZATION AND STAFFING MODEL

The Harbours Section reports through the Director of Parks and Open Space to theCommissioner of Community Services and ultimately to Council.Additionally, the Oakville Harbours Advisory Committee advises Council on matterspertaining to harbour operations. Its membership has representation from Council andfrom the public. The Committee performs a valuable role since it has the experienceand time to consider harbour-related matters in more depth than other councilcommittees. The Committee also acts as a forum for the boating community and othersto present their views. For these reasons, the current role and make-up of theCommittee should be continued.Currently the Harbours Section is managed by the Harbour Master who is assisted byan administrator. Outside operations are carried out by two full-time staff members andtwo part-time staff who undertake harbours work for eight months and work for anothersection during the remainder of the year. Additional part-time employees and studentsare taken on during the busy period of the year. Figure 4 shows the staffing andorganizational structure.Staffing levels in other marinas were compared to the Harbours Section. The reviewindicated that Oakville’s staffing levels are slightly below the norm particularly when

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the complexity of its two-harbour operation is taken into account. However, theabsence of transient slips in the Oakville harbours somewhat balances this factor as itreduces management, administration and service requirements.The current Harbour Master is retiring very soon and will be difficult to replace givenhis depth of experience and his ability to perform every aspect of the work involved inoperating the harbours. The very experienced Harbour Administrator will also beretiring in the near future. Through a comprehensive analysis of the Parks and OpenSpace Department structure, the Harbours and Cemeteries Sections have beencombined into one business section, under a Manager, Harbours and Cemeteries. Thesesections have very similar business procedures and both operate with minimal supportfrom the tax levy. In addition, both sections are focussed on providing high-levelcustomer service. Also, through the restructuring process, the Harbours Sectionrecruited for a new Harbours Supervisor. The primary focus of the Manager, Harboursand Cemeteries will be the business and strategic planning aspect of operations. TheSupervisor of Harbours will be responsible for the day-to-day operations, including theyards, for Oakville and Bronte Harbours.Based on the Parks and Open Space Department restructuring and taking account of thestaffing levels maintained in other marinas, no need for additional staff has beenidentified. However, the situation should be carefully monitored after the staffchangeover has been fully implemented to ensure that the necessary service and safetystandards of are being maintained.___________________To summarize, it has been concluded from the review that full boating operationsshould be maintained in both harbours. Secondly, it is concluded that the existingmunicipal–private structure which is in keeping with practice elsewhere in the GTAshould be continued. With respect to the division of responsibilities it is concluded thatthe Harbours Section should no longer be directly responsible for basic harbourinfrastructure which instead should be treated as part of the Town-wide infrastructure.However, the Harbours Section should be responsible for all other capital assets thatsupport boating operations. This includes items such as dockage, power pedestals, boatramps, harbours equipment, electrical and water services and buildings used by boaters.
It should also include a share of the costs of maintaining and repairing walkways,parking lots, and lighting within the harbours as they are used by both boaters and nonboaters.Comparisons with marina and harbour facilities within 50 km of Oakville indicate thatOakville’s harbours are competitive in terms of services, given their non-transientorientation. However, like other harbours and marinas, they do not have sufficientcapacity to fully satisfy market demand especially moorings for larger boats. Thisshortage will probably increase in future years as the Town’s population grows.In the next section the financial aspects of harbour operations are reviewed withparticular emphasis on long-term asset replacement costs, mooring and storage fee ratesand on club lease arrangements.