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Ferry Island boat launch contested

The boat launch on Ferry Island being is proposed located on the south side of the bridge across from Walmart.  - KAT LEE PHOTO
The boat launch on Ferry Island being is proposed located on the south side of the bridge across from Walmart.
— image credit: KAT LEE PHOTO

Objections to the proposed boat launch on Ferry Island are ramping up.

Posters have shown up around town in a campaign to “Save Ferry Island,” urging residents to call the city's talkback line and oppose a boat launch to be placed on the popular municipal campground.

The city has received five comments on its talk back line in the last three months that are opposed to the proposed boat launch on Ferry Island. Bad location, increased traffic, and impacts on campers and habitat are listed as some of the reasons.

Members of a group of local boaters approached city council in January 2010 with the idea of constructing a new boat launch on the Skeena River within city limits, saying that there is a lot of congestion at the Kalum River launch during high demand times between June to August.

Boating group member Michael Hogg had then told council that another boat launch location would mean access to upper rivers, less impact on salmon migration and spawning at the Kalum River boat launch, and a service the city could offer to tourists.

The group had identified the south side of the new bridge on the inner channel as the preferred launch site after speaking with stakeholders and residents, and asked council's permission to use the spot on Ferry Island below the bridge facing Walmart.

Hogg said all of the money for the project would come from clubs like Rotary or in-kind donations.

The group is hoping to lobby local service groups for the $30,000 roughly estimated cost for the construction and ramp design. The Downtown Rotary Club has said it will donate $20,000 toward the project, and Hogg said there would also be in-kind services provided during construction.

It wouldn't be asking the city for money, but looking for the city's go ahead and basic site maintenance; it costs around $7,000 a year to maintain the city-owned boat launch at Fisherman’s Park near Kitsumkalum.

Council said it wanted to get some community input before approving anything, saying that a survey of Ferry Island campers and nearby businesses and residents would need to be done.

Terrace resident Shawn Dimitrov lives close to Ferry Island, with the Skeena River practically in his back yard, and has concerns about how the boat launch will impact the river and surrounding area.

“Such a boat launch would require a significant expansion of parking facilities and/or road surface for maneuvering trailered vehicles, in addition to the launch itself in the river,” he wrote on the “Save Ferry Island” Facebook page.

“Being on the north end, it will be subject to the full brunt of the spring freshet, meaning large trees and other debris being washed into it at high speeds, and thus will either require annual maintenance/rebuilding, or if armored sufficiently to withstand this, it will redirect additional spring current and debris to the opposite side of the channel, further eroding private lands.”

Hogg says the boating group is aware of the posters around town, but said the group hasn't shifted its opinion of looking at Ferry Island for the boat launch site.

“The thing is that there is no ideal site....there isn't one. And if there is, no one's stepped forward and said this is it,” he said. “It's a trade off...do we need a second boat launch? Yes, we do. Well, where are we going to put it? Here's a possibility.

“Is it the perfect site? No, there isn't one,” he continued, but said this site is the best of the locations the group looked at initially.

Council has decided to put $1,000 towards a survey to see if a boat launch at the municipal campground is wanted by residents. The canvassing would include boat users at the Kitsumkalum launch, city residents, and campers and anglers at Ferry Island, and is expected to take place during a busy time like the May long weekend.

 

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