The Council has announced the fees will be removed immediately, after striking an undisclosed deal with the State Government to compensate for tens of thousands of dollars in lost earnings.
The move follows a recent Facebook campaign, created by local fisherman John Joubert, to shame the Council into changing its mind.
Queenscliffe was one of just two Councils in the state refusing to scrap the fees - defying a government election commitment to upgrade amenities and make all recreational berthing free.
"[A] big thanks to all who got behind our little fight, l just wonder if this would have happened if nobody raised a fuss," Mr Joubert posted.
"Given the the land was bequest to the council from VicRail as crown land and all revenue was to be spent on maintenance and improvements, none of which is apart from employing a [toilet] cleaner and a bylaws officer, then you can probably understand why users at Queenscliff feel totally ripped off.”
However the Council said it had been negotiating with the government behind the scenes for several months.
“Fee-free boating will make a day out on the water more accessible for everyone,” said Mayor Bob Merriman. “That’s why Council has been working closely with the Victorian Government on removing these fees.”
The Council hopes the move will deliver a spike in recreational boating tourism. “The Borough of Queenscliffe is the best place in the state to go boating and fishing. With no fees being charged for parking at the Queenscliff Boat Ramp, there’s never been a better time to visit our community for a day on the water,” said Cr Merriman.
The Queenscliff ramp is one of the most popular on the Bellarine. Removal of the fees will save boat owners as much as $202 annually or $129 for residents, and parking fees of $12 a day. Council has estimated it could, however, cost as much as $1.25 million in lost revenue over the next 10 years.
Under the new agreement, amenities at the ramp will also be upgraded.
The government promised to abolish fees statewide in the lead up to November’s state election and committed to returning every cent of marine licensing and boat registration fees to improving boating safety and facilities through the establishment of a Better Boating fund.
“We’ve listened to boaters and are delivering on our commitment to scrap parking and launching fees – making it cheaper and easier more for more Victorians to get involved in recreational boating and fishing,” said Fishing and Boating Minister Jaala Pulford.