I’m one of the group of people that proposed building a seasonal boat launch on Ferry Island to relieve the strain at the city’s Fisherman Park.
Opponents to the project have raised several concerns, some that we agreed with and others we did not. In particular, increased noise from boat traffic was a fair concern, as there would be regular boat traffic in the channel. Hearing this concern, we recommended that a gate be installed at the launch restricting access prior to a 7 or 8 AM opening. We also felt concern over vehicle traffic was valid: there would be increased vehicle traffic in the vicinity, so an already busy area, it is fair to say would be busier during the summer months.
On the other hand, there were some statements voiced by opponents that were inaccurate and certainly could have swayed opinion. They stated that “3.3 square kilometers” of the island would be turned into parking lot – we had proposed a total area of 3,300 square metres of access road and parking lot, a long way from 3.3 square kilometres.
There were also comments that the launch would be a gateway to “development and businesses” on the island. Development in a flood plain? If this was the case I would personally join the fight against it. Lastly, that boat traffic would be the source of bank erosion. Also unlikely – bank erosion on the Skeena is caused by high-water during run-off, not by boats.
When we set out with the endeavor of creating a second boat launch, the intent was to improve the facilities that the region offers and construct something of benefit for the community.
Weighted against alternatives, Ferry Island seemed like a potential candidate for a new launch site.
The Rotary Club of Terrace, of which I am a member, was good enough to step forward and contribute to the capital cost of construction. But in the end we did not foresee this sort of opposition, and nor did we care to push the project through in the face of it.
The bottom line was that enough people felt strongly that Ferry Island was not the right place for a boat launch and for varying reasons. Hence we have requested of Rotary and the City that the project be withdrawn.
Looking ahead, perhaps this discussion over a launch will spur new ideas into finding a site that we can all agree on. Perhaps the City will take a closer look at the Kalum launch and the over-crowding that is seen there each summer. The project grew out of the bottleneck at the Kalum launch, but it also addressed the need for better access to points upriver as well as habitat and safety issues. These needs will persist as long as there is fishing and boating on the Skeena in our area. The economic benefit that the sports fishery represents is often overlooked in Terrace: from locals, to visitors, to retail and guiding businesses, the collective local benefit is not insignificant. We need facilities that support this. Facilities that locals can use and enjoy and visitors, guided or otherwise, can use and leave thinking they’ve had the benefit of a first-class facility in a first-class community.
(With respect to the work that went into this project, thank you to all levels of government, organizations, business and individuals that contributed).
Michael Hogg, Terrace, BC