New to this year, Canal Flats residents are no longer required to pay for use of the public boat launch at Tilley Memorial Park, and while residents outside Canal Flats are still paying user fees, mayor Ute Juras said for the most part the change has been welcomed by Canal Flats residents.
“I challenge you to pick up the phone and call any resident of the village, and they will sing praises,” Juras said.
Formerly a provincial park, the province once considered closing the beach until a group of volunteers known as the Beach Committee offered to maintain it as long as it remained open. The province accepted, and when the Village of Canal Flats was incorporated in 2004, a request was made to the province to transfer ownership of the park to the village. After many years, ownership was formally transferred in 2010, and the beach was subsequently renamed Tilley Memorial Park in memory of John and Ann Tilley, a family with a long history of serving the community of Canal Flats.
The village initially maintained the beach through a combination of user fees and taxation, which according to Juras upset many residents who felt they were being forced to pay twice between taxation and user fees for the use of the public boat launch, the only one of its kind in the area. During budget discussions earlier this year, Canal Flats council decided to change the system, still charging taxation, but giving those living within Canal Flats a free beach pass. For those outside the village, the user fee has been set at $20, and yearly passes may also be purchased.
Juras said since the change, she has heard that even more people have been using the beach. She said she has also heard complaints and letters from outside the village, and urges anyone with questions to call either her or the village offices as she feels the change is for the better.
Finally, with the Canal Flats recreation service area set to merge in the near future, Juras said there is a possibility for the rates to change, or even be eliminated in the future.