City to clean up popular boat launch

The city now wants to reinforce river banks to safeguard against further erosion and to remove sandbars.

GETTING A boat launch into usable condition for the summer is costing the City of Terrace $25,000.

While it might not be within city limits, a long-standing lease agreement for land on Terrace’s outskirts where the Skeena and Kalum rivers meet is part of the rationale for city involvement.

The $25,000 is to temporarily fix the boat launch at Fisherman’s Memorial Park while long-term plans are developed to better protect the launch should the river change course and from rock and sand left behind when waters from the spring melt recede.

Each year, the city spends up to $5,000 to look after the park, including removing debris from the launch’s concrete pads, garbage removal, cleaning washrooms and parking lot maintenance.

But rocks, sand, trees and other debris are blocking the boat launch and making it unsafe to use.

The launch is well used by local and tourist anglers.

The park is on CN Rail and transportation ministry right of way, but a no-fee lease dating back to 1965 is what brings the park area into the city’s hands.

In the late 1990s, a non-profit group raised money to fix the launch and in 2006, approximately $12,000 was spent by the city to fix it again as it was unusable due to sandbars and debris blocking the area. The sand and debris returned with the late spring 2007 floods.

While the launch has still been used throughout the summers since, more debris was left at the launch from last year’s high waters.

The city now wants to reinforce river banks to safeguard against further erosion and to remove sandbars.

But debris build up will continue over the long term and a move might eventually be necessary, says City of Terrace leisure services foreman Floyd Mann.

The river is changing,” he said. “It could get to the point where all you’re doing is cleaning the silt and sand out.”

It may be a determination at the end of the day that the boat ramp won’t be usable there for that much longer,” said Mann, adding the city is spending $10,000 to ask a consultant for advice.

The water is a funny thing though, it does what it wants and sometimes it defies what everybody thought about,” Mann said.

Terry Montague has been hired to reinforce the river banks and to clean up the ramp area.

Local angler Randy Murray, who owns the Northcoast Anglers fishing and hunting store, is glad the work is being done.

It’s almost impossible to use it safely,” said Murray.

The Kitsumkalum boat launch, located on the same river junction on the opposite side of the Kalum bridge, is also well used, he said.

But it’s getting bad too, though,” he said. “We need a third, we can’t live with one.”

A proposal last year for a boat launch on Ferry Island was abandoned after complaints were received about the location.