Though some work has been done to repair the boat launch, some council members are hoping for more.
At the last council meeting, Councillor McPherson brought a discussion about the boat launch to council. “My problem here is, it seems that staff doesn’t seem to want the burden on them.” Says McPherson. “All it takes is to take a drive down there and take a look at it. I know they go down there to empty garbage and stuff like that. It’s obvious for anyone looking at it that there are problems. I really think if we don’t want to take care of it, then we should give it back to the regional district and have them take care of it, because we aren’t.”
Councillor Caisley agreed adding, “We should be able to be in a position to make the boat launch and that area a first class setup for our locals here and tourists alike. Certainly, it is a major part of the sustainability plan in a sense. It is an attraction and it will grow with that. I think there is some major opportunity there to get it done. It’s one of those things that can be done.”
What the councillors are referring to is a plan of action to turn the boat launch area into a recreational site, with campsites and places for visitors to park their boats.
“There are other things that should be going on down there, like looking at putting in camp sites in that area too. I’ve heard people say they would stay here longer if they had a place to camp near their boat.”
In this year’s budget, council allocated $50,000 for an engineering plan from Urban Systems to repair the entrance off the highway and a design concept.
Barry Elliott, CAO said, “The entrance way is an engineering concern. The initial conversations have happened, but I don’t have anything yet to bring back to council. Earlier we went through quite a process just to get those broken pieces, and it was really frustrating for everyone. Every time you work near the river, you have to go through the same process, and probably a little larger process. The plan needs to be developed first.”
I appreciate Councillor McPherson bringing the concern of the boat launch to my attention. We did try and rectify it fairly quickly, and again as soon as Mr. Beale is back we will be having discussions about the on-going attention to that area.
Councillor McPherson said, “They [other towns] do take care of boat launches and it doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem as it seems to be for us.”
After the discussion Mayor Wren told a true story about the tourism potential for the boat launch. He remembered, “I was at a meeting with some gentlemen at the Steakhouse and there was a table of people there; about 30–35 people. So I stopped to introduce myself. It was 35 river boaters from the Fairview-Grimshaw area [Alberta],” he continued, “They all came to Tumbler Ridge to use the Murray River, so I chatted with them. That was the one comment, ‘It would have been so great if we could have camped at the site there’, because they would have stayed for a number of days if they could do that. They were extremely nervous about leaving their boats there, so that evening, there were all these boats parked. Had we had that facility, on that one weekend, we would have had 30 or 40 riverboat guests in our community. I do think it is right on target with sustainability. We have to take these things and build on them now, and get them in place now, while we have some revenues coming in from the mines. If we lost that revenue for some reason, God forbid, we wouldn’t have the revenues then to do these things. Then, we’re right back to the year 2000. One of the happy things today is we are moving on with the RV sites at the golf course. Those are the things that are going to make the community sustainable.” (Look for the story on golf course renovations on page 12.)
Councillor McPherson explained how most people don’t complain, but that doesn’t mean the boat launch is fixed. He said, “The river boaters, they are used to backing into creeks and stuff, they don’t complain much. There is a definite improvement because you’re not tearing up tires on the cement, now, myself I still have to lift my boat off the trailer because it drops down so fast that it catches the boat. I don’t think I’m the only one. They figure it’s just part of launching the boat…but it shouldn’t happen.”