The introduction of an annual licence fee for canal pontoons in the Tweed is part of that Shire’s new approach to canal management, which includes a new draft Canal Management Policy which is on public exhibition from 23 September to 4 November 2020.
Tweed Shire Council manages nine canal estates – comprised of both navigable and non-navigable waterways – and the foreshores adjacent to several hundred residential allotments.
Within canals, facilities such as pontoons, boat ramps and beaches present maintenance considerations that affect both Council and residents.
The draft Canal Management Policy outlines Council’s position on a number of matters relevant to canals, including maintenance of beaches, unapproved structures and use of vessels.
Importantly, the policy also describes Council’s licensing of pontoons and the fees charged.
Council has now resolved to begin charging an annual licence fee for pontoons, commencing at the beginning of 2022. The annual pontoon licence fee will be used to fund the maintenance required in Council’s canal estates.
The fee is a flat annual fee of $255 per year for the pontoon license and $196 for a pontoon license application or transfer, indexed to CPI.
The majority of the canal systems are more than 30 years old and located in an environment where deterioration can have a significant impact on their safety and functionality.
Currently Council budgets $40,000 annually for canal works and this will need to increase in the future.
In recent years funding has been allocated to projects such as navigation dredging in Endless Summer and Seagulls canals, beach nourishment at Anchorage Islands and flood debris removal at Oxley Cove.
Tweed canal residents have been invited to make submissions on Council’s draft Canal Management Policy.
Increasing the revenue available to maintain canals and public waterway facilities will improve the safety and durability of these assets.
The charging of an annual licence fee for private structures in Council-owned canals is consistent with NSW Government practice, where fees are charged for private structures in Crown waterways.
The NSW Government application fee is currently $626, with an annual base fee of $240, plus a rate of $4.65 per square metre.
A 30-square metre structure on a Crown waterway reserve would currently cost approximately $380 per annum, plus GST.