Quebec marinas are seeing a decline in motor boats on the waterways: the rise in gasoline prices is proving to be a determining factor.
Posted at 6:00 am
Mathieu Demers has been sailing on Lac Mégantic for eight years. He has noticed a sharp drop in the number of motorboats on the lake since the beginning of the season. “Half as much,” he said. “The price of petrol and the reopening of borders have a lot to do with it,” he says.
A boat ride now costs him about $200 a day, half for the car ride and half for refueling his boat wakesurfing. Last summer he paid $120 per trip on Lac Mégantic.
In North Hatley on Lake Massawippi, motorized boat traffic is estimated to have dropped by 10%, says Josée Fontaine, coordinator of the community marina. In their opinion, the increase in the price of gasoline seems to be the main reason.
North Hatley has seen a ‘crazy increase’ in paddleboard and kayak trips compared to last summer.
The same scenario at Lac Simon in the Outaouais. Chantal Hamelin, director of the Lac Simon Nautical Center, notes a drop in rentals and gasoline sales. In the Sorel Marina, sales at the gas dock have collapsed by 10%, harbor master Mario Desmarais estimates.
The strong winds hitting the region are also part of the equation, says Chantal Hamelin. “I myself prevented myself from going out because of the winds,” she emphasizes.
“Cabins by the Water”
In the Marina Brousseau in Saint-Sulpice, all berths are rented for the season. However, members remain on board their boat at the quay. “Definitely people are sailing less. It won’t go far,” confirms Daniel Arsenault, coordinator of the Brousseau marina.
Some marinas have seen unprecedented traffic in recent summers. “The pandemic has started a movement,” says Mathieu Leblanc, owner of Marina Lévis. For example, Lake Memphremagog saw a peak in shipping traffic in 2021, says Frédérique Thibault-Lessard, project manager for Memphremagog Conservation.
Inflation seems to be affecting boating enthusiasts as well as marinas, which have seen their sales fall since the beginning of the summer.
The boat is a luxury. What happens when people have less money? Luxury.
Yvon Vannini, owner of the North Shore Marina in Repentigny
To date, fuel sales at Lévis Marina have fallen by 50% compared to 2021, estimates Mathieu Leblanc, who has also observed a drop in visitors. Members use their pleasure boat as “a cabin on the water,” he adds. The owner of the marina at Pointe-aux-Trembles, Paul-Yvon Valois, also confirms that “there will be fewer trips” this summer.
The phenomenon does not appear to be generalized across the province. Boucherville Marina has not experienced a drop in traffic. Sales remained similar to those of 2021, stresses the marina’s owner, Jeannot Picher.
The Trois-Rivières marina is developing quite well. In July it sold 1,500 liters more petrol than at the same time last year, its director Mario Cloutier confirms.
In Rimouski, we’re seeing more and more pleasure boats from outside Quebec, says Claude Lemay, general manager of Rimouski Marina. However, in terms of petrol sales and ridership, the trend appears to be the same as last summer, he adds.
In Estrie, Memphrémagog Conservation (MCI) still receives complaints from residents of Lake Memphrémagog denouncing the loud parties on moored boats, Frédérique Thibault-Lessard tells us.
In 2021, MCI saw a 25.8% increase in the number of permanent boats on the lake compared to 2010. There is still no decrease or increase in the number of pleasure craft on the lake in 2022. It is still early to quantify traffic this summer, according to Frédérique Thibault-Lessard.