Illegal berthing fees cease at Cupids dock

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Environment department stops activity after citizens’ rep gets involved

Leonard Martin knew the local boating association in Cupids had no right to charge berthing fees to people docking at Pointe Beach. He’s ultimately pleased it was suggested he contact the Office of the Citizens’ Representative (OCR) to get something done about it.

Barry Fleming

“I was at that for quite some time before we got anywhere, and I actually went to my lawyer and asked if there was anything he could do for me, and he said, ‘There certainly is, but before you do, why don’t you contact the citizens’ representative office.’ I was totally unaware of a citizens’ representative office,” said Martin.

According to Martin, the Town of Cupids initially applied to use land along Pointe Beach as a day-use park in tandem with celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary in 2010 of the establishment of the first English Settlement in Canada.

Martin said the town was eventually awarded a temporary licence to occupy the land with a condition that nothing be established there that couldn’t be removed.

According to a 2010 article published in The Compass weekly newspaper, $600,000 was invested in the property that summer through the municipal capital works program.

Martin contacted the Department of Environment and Conservation and did not get the response he was looking for. Once he saw that berthing fees were being charged to boat owners, he took the matter to the OCR.

“That was the best move I ever made,” said Martin.

Following initial discussions with an investigator from that office, Martin filed a formal complaint with the department in April of 2012.

By the end of that month, and two weeks after the Office of the Citizen’s Representative gave formal notice of its intent to investigate, the department wrote to both the town and the local boat owners’ association about the matter.

According to the Office of the Citizens’ Representative’s annual report for 2012-13, the department told both parties “they had no authorization to operate a commercial marina.” It further instructed them “to immediately cease occupation and not to restrict public access.”

Martin and the citizens’ representative were both unaware of the department’s actions. OCR issued a second request for disclosure in early June. Crown Lands contacted OCR a week later and enclosed the letters sent April 30.

“We made a suggestion to the department,” said Barry Fleming, the province’s citizens’ representative.

“We said, ‘You did everything right with respect to how you handled the complaint. You followed all processes and policies, but in keeping with administrative fairness, it would be beneficial if you would notify the people who file complaints with you about the outcome of your work.’”

Fleming said his office regularly handles complaints disputing ownership of Crown lands, more often relating to cabins or rights of way.

Meanwhile, the town has since applied to Crown Lands for full ownership of Pointe Beach.

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: The Compass, Department of Environment and Conservation, Office of the Citizens

Geographic location: Canada

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  • Don II
    December 16, 2013 - 08:45

    It appears that there is much more to this story. It appears that the Town of Cupids did not bother to obtain any of the required approvals or permits from the Government of Newfoundland or the Government of Canada such as the Navigable Waters Protection Program prior to building and/or operating an unapproved Commercial Marina at Point Beach in Cupids! It appears that the Town of Cupids built the unapproved Commercial Marina on Crown land that the Town did not own and allowed the unapproved Commercial Marina to be operated for almost two years without any approval from the Department of Environment and Conservation which is in charge of Crown lands! It appears that at the time the unapproved Commercial Marina was built, the Pointe Beach was not zoned under the Town of Cupids land use plan for use for a Commercial Marina. It appears that the $600,000 in tax payer funding which the Town of Cupids spent on building the infrastructure it required in order to operate the Commercial Marina infrastructure was not approved by the Government of Newfoundland to be spent on the construction of a Commercial Marina in Cupids! Is the Department of Municipal Affairs investigating the circumstances involved in how the $600,000 was obtained by the Town of Cupids in order to build the unapproved Commercial Marina? Is the Department of Environment and Conservation planning to take any legal action against the Town of Cupids for building an unapproved Commercial Marina on Crown land without approval? Is the Department of Environment and Conservation going to approve a Crown Land Grant for the Town of Cupids after it has unlawfully built an unapproved Commercial Marina on Crown land? Is the Government of Newfoundland simply trying to sweep this highly questionable matter under the rug? Is the Government of Newfoundland going to allow the Town of Cupids to continue to build and expand the unapproved Commercial Marina and continue to allow the imposition of regulations on and the charging of fees to local boat owners to moor their boats on moorings that they have used for decades without hindrance! Without a doubt, no other citizen in Newfoundland and Labrador would be allowed to occupy Crown Land, ignore land use zoning laws, build permanent infrastructure on Crown land without permission and operate a Commercial business on that Crown land without approval and permits from the Government of Newfoundland without being subjected to legal action and severe punitive measures! Is the Town of Cupids above the law?