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One of two ready to use fire extingushers
REPORTING · 26th April 2010
Merv Ritchie
It was a fascinating collection of facts, details, pictures and more as Michael Graham provided a litany of complaints directed squarely at the manager of MK Bay Marina, Richard Smeal. Spilled oil, leaking fuel lines, broken docks, exposed wiring, broken security gate, unsafe domestic water system, discharged, unserviced and insufficient fire extinguisher systems, misrepresented power supply, the list goes on. The MK Marina User Group attended on mass at the Regional District Kitimat Stikine (RDKS) board meeting on Friday evening.

Those who come forward and point out the problems tell stories of being ejected from the marina by the manager or denied fuel purchases. It appears, in all the stories told, Smeal runs the MK Bay Marina as if it is his own little kingdom where he is answerable to no one and after years of complaining to the owners of the Marina, the RDKS, without results the boat owners are wondering what else they can do.

Graham began his presentation with a list of the financials. The marina has been running ever increasing deficits; $167,000 in 2007, $250,000 in 2008 and $350,000 in 2009. Run extremely poorly, mismanaged to a state of such disrepair as to cause embarrassment, and features the highest moorage rates on the Northwest Coast, $61.05 per foot. In comparison some of the high end exclusive marinas such as Port hardy’s destination resort charge less, $56.11. In fact all marinas; Port McNiel, Sandspit, Port Edward, and even Prince Rupert’s Yacht club (though they have a membership fee) charge less than $50.00 per foot.

The electricity supply available for the boats are labelled as being either 20 or 30 amp service however everyone is connected to individual 15 amp breakers. This has left boaters in the unsafe position of have an appliance tripping the breaker leaving the vessel without power to run bilge pumps resulting in at least one boat sinking. Only two fire extinguishers can be found within the marina but one is half discharged and the other hasn’t been checked for ten years. The fuel dock suffers the same neglect and does not have the spill equipment available nor other safety equipment ordered by the government.

Smeal is listed as making almost $73,000 for mismanaging the marina and according to Graham is away for four months of the year. “How can this be?’ asked Graham, “We would like some answers by the way.”

The video of the presentation, viewed HERE, is complete with pictures of the hazards all over the marina. In closing Graham answered questions from the RDKS directors.

“You say you’re going to pay for being here?” asked Director Ramsey in reference to an earlier statement by Graham.

“In terms of being bullied by the Manager? I have no doubt.” replied Graham, “If I walked into the office tomorrow and said ‘Richard, I want to go on a list’ and I think I might just do that, ‘that I want to move my vessel from this location to that location.’ I’d love to see what happens. [...] I’ve witnessed shouting matches between the Manager and clients.”

The mismanagement and complaints, written and in person, have been going on for many years. A local doctors boat sank, over the course of several days, 3 years ago and cost 10’s of thousands of dollars accompanied by legal fees and insurance issues. Having the marina staff making rounds to watch over the boats, once or twice a day, much like most marinas, would have saved a few boats. After finally settling he has been denied even temporary space to tie up during the summer being told there was simply no space. The Anna Christine Charter Vessel has encountered years of difficulty and reports being denied fuel sales and has had to move to another marina.

The RDKS has been aware of the problems as boaters have written many times, have delivered presentations in previous years and yet the same problem has continued. There is a bureaucratic nightmare to the entire situation. The RDKS has an administration which oversees the running of the Regional district and these types of facilities. There is a committee, called the function committee, which oversees the MK Bay Marina and reports to the RDKS administration. The elected Board of directors meet once each month to discuss the recommendations of the administration. This presents the combined problems of committees upon committees with elected representatives upon indentured staff, attempting to find a way of sanctioning, replacing or disciplining an employee with a senior position.

The RDKS is also considering expanding the Marina and is negotiating with the Village of Kitamaat for increased moorage space due to the closure of Moon Bay Marina. This has some current users perplexed as the marina is in such a poor state of repair, unmanaged and unsecured with its current size.

The RDKS board entered into a closed door session at the end of Fridays Board meeting to discuss the situation at MK Bay marina therefore no results of their deliberations are available.

Watch a video of the presentation at the RDKS Board meeting Friday, April 23, by clicking here.
The MK Bay Marina Boat Launch
The MK Bay Marina Boat Launch
Labeled as 20 and 30 amp service yet all are connected to 15 amp circuit breakers
Labeled as 20 and 30 amp service yet all are connected to 15 amp circuit breakers
Waste oil storage facility
Waste oil storage facility
What is the duty,who is liable, which Ministry will charge which Government?
What is the duty,who is liable, which Ministry will charge which Government?