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EDITORIAL: Cooperation needed to solve access issue

It was in June of last year that one of the Humber Valley Rowing Club’s boats came loose from its mooring at the club’s floating dock at Brake’s Cove.

The scull was badly damaged after the waves threw it against the rocks, and the dock itself narrowly escaped a similar fate after three of the four ropes holding it in place also came loose.

Members of the club were convinced the ropes were cut — in other words, an act of vandalism. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary never was able to determine whether this was the case, but it’s enough to make anyone a bit skittish when it comes to protecting their property.

Fast forward to this past week when The Western Star ran a story about a local boater who took umbrage with the club’s decision to restrict access to those docks and an area nearby often used to launch personal watercraft.

Peter Davis doesn’t want to use the club’s dock, but sees no reason why boaters can’t use the launch. He finds it discouraging that the club has taken this attitude toward fellow boaters.

For the club’s part, co-president Lori Hynes says some of the rowers have encountered “less than friendly” boaters in the past, although she didn’t elaborate on those issues for this story.

“Less than friendly” would be one way to describe the public reaction to last week’s story. The majority of those who commented sided with the boaters, with some calling the rowing club “self entitled” and “elitist,” and their sculls “water-logged relics.”

Not to suggest the Humber Valley Rowing Club isn’t on par with the squads at Yale or Oxford, but “elitist” might be a bit strong to describe what’s really going on here.

The problem, it seems, can be put down to a lack of communication and cooperation. It’s an issue that has so far played out in the media and on online message boards, when a simple solution would be for both parties to work together to create a situation that works for everyone.

The rowing club may be justified in being protective of the dock area and water access because of the damage from a year ago, but the answer shouldn’t be to penalize everyone else who are innocent bystanders. Likewise, those few boaters who treat the rowers with disdain don’t help anyone either.

There is a former launch nearby that the club has suggested the boaters use instead, but Davis says it’s not suitable and needs to be cleaned up.

Perhaps what’s needed is a show of goodwill on the part of both the club and the boaters. If both sides can come together and organize a community cleanup of the old launch it solves two problems in one.

And let’s hope this can happen before the war of words in public gets out of hand. Right now, the worst restriction is the inability to find a simple solution.

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