Launch fees waived again for Renegade Bass

Tourism Coordinator Katherine Wells presents her report to South Dundas council March 15, 2016. Councillors Marc St. Pierre, Archie Mellan and Public Works Supervisor Chris Bazinet listen. Council voted to waive the launch fees for the Renegade Bass tournament in August 2016, the equivalent of $1,920. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

MORRISBURG – South Dundas council has approved the waiving of launch fees for two days in August for the Renegade Bass qualifying tournament.

But, unlike the two-day championship tour in 2015, this qualifier is a one day affair with a second so-called “pre-fishing day” added to allow anglers to scope out the area.

Tourism Coordinator Katherine Wells told council Tuesday night the value of the Renegade Bass Tournament and the War of 1812 Re-Enactment were gauged based on a provincial government computer modelling program.

The data used for the council report was based on information Renegade Bass spokesman Paul Shibata had shared with council in October as well as township research using the event’s website.

Based on the Ontario Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model (TREIM), this year’s tournament would generate $63,641 in the community. The War of 1812 Re-Enactment weekend in July is projected to generate $771,031 locally.

But information from the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce report on Renegade Bass, promised following the 2015 tournament, did not factor into tonight’s (Tuesday) decision.

“No, we received a report from the chamber about a month or two ago. It wasn’t the report we were looking for. We were looking for a more detailed report as far as providing us with some more detail on numbers and sponsors and costs. They (chamber) were supposed to discuss that at (a) meeting last week so we’re just waiting on more information from that,” CAO Shannon Geraghty told Brockville Newswatch.

Geraghty believes the economic benefits will be more pronounced in South Dundas this year as the qualifying tournament draws about twice as many teams as the championship.

“Last year was a championship so it was geared more towards the 40 teams where as this year it’s a qualifier so you have more teams available…we went on their Renegade Bass tournament online and got some information from that so we’re pretty confident those numbers on the website are accurate or close to it,” Geraghty said.

The CAO said the waiving of launch fees was more geared to what the municipality should be doing, foregoing the $5,000 ask for a media campaign. He inferred that was more of a chamber initiative as businesses would stand to benefit more from the media exposure.

Geraghty was reluctant to say the municipality has set a precedent for fishing tournaments and the waiving of launch fees. “You have to look at them on a case by case basis. You look at the overall (economic) benefit, what it does to South Dundas. It did some benefits to our gas stations, to our hotel accommodations last year. I guess anything you do can set a precedent,” the CAO said.

Council voted 4-1 to give the $1,920 worth of launch fees to Renegade Bass. Coun. Archie Mellan voted against it.

“When the taxpayers are paying…people that are voting…have to pay their launch fees or we want them to pay their launch fees and we encourage them to pay their launch fees. There are some that will be in tournament and maybe from South Dundas. Most of them will be from outside the area. I just don’t think it’s fair that residents of South Dundas who pay their launch fees to subsidize a bass tournament,” Mellan said in an interview with Brockville Newswatch.

Mellan doesn’t believe council made a hasty decision without the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce report. He sees the economic benefit but maybe not to the scale council approved tonight.

“I don’t think it’s a two day economic benefit. I realize that one day,” Mellan said. “Last year I didn’t support it so and I just can’t support it yet.”

Parcelled in with the Renegade Bass request was $500 for the Friends of Crysler’s Farm Battlefield for the War of 1812 Re-Enactment. The Canadian Plowing Championships were given nothing based on the EDO report.

CAO Geraghty told council, all groups will be cautioned that they will have to go through the grants process this fall if they want money or in-kind services in 2017.

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