After $50 million was spent to improve the waterfront along the Gravenhurst, Ontario, wharf, it was discovered that there had been no budgeting for a new and improved boat ramp. In November 2008 town counselors announced a proposal to raise funding for construction to improve the boat launch facilities by charging a launch fee of $10 in and $10 out.
When Dave Rochette, founder of the Muskoka Bassmasters, found out about the plan, he went to work with a counter argument to reverse the initiative. They knew that the proposed fee would not only alienate members of the OBFN but that it would also deter other tournament groups as well as recreational anglers and boaters from coming to the Muskoka region.
In February 2009 Dave addressed the town council with a comprehensive statement that revealed the value of the free launch to the town and its impact on the local economy. He told the council that a free launch is the carrot that brings anglers and tournament associations into local communities like Gravenhurst.
"Anglers who frequent the community and our beautiful waterfront will simply find somewhere else to launch," he told them. For tournament organizations or anglers who frequent the lake, finding a free launch is imperative and often the deciding factor when deciding where to fish.
It worked! Gravenhurst reversed its position regarding the fee.
"I am extremely proud of the efforts lead by Dave Rochette and the Muskoka Bassmasters," said Mike Walsh, president of the club. "This seemingly small issue would have had enormous financial repercussions on the local economy and anglers over a long period. Credit must be given to the members of the Gravenhurst Town Council for weighing the evidence and making decisions based on the overall health of the community. During difficult economic times like this, it could have been easy to allow the idea of short term revenue streams to cloud the big picture."
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