By David F. Rooney
An old argument gained new heat on Tuesday as the Rod and Gun Club told City Council that BC Hydro’s proposal to repair the Centennial Park boat ramp could expose day boaters and visitors to the dangers that lurk just beneath the surface of the Columbia River between Revelstoke and Shelter Bay.
Last month, Council turned down a plan by BC Hydro to repair the boat ramp. This week, Alan Chan-MacLeod, manager of WLR
Physical Works, appeared before it with Stakeholder Engagement Advisor Jennifer Walker-Larsen, to explain Hydro’s plan.
“We have been directed to repair the boat launch by the Comptroller of Water Rights,” Chan-MacLeod said.
Under the current plan, BC Hydro wants to spend $124,000 to resurface the ramp. However, if that proceeds this would be the only ramps fixed in this immediate area.
That sounds simple — but it’s not.
This plan emerged from a series of public meetings held in 2007 and 2008. At those meetings, local anglers continually said that Centennial Park was not the right ramp for the area because of the known dangers such as shifting sandbars, snags and other hazards between Revelstoke and Shelter Bay. Hydro should instead focus its money and efforts on repairing the Shelter Bay boat launch.
That’s exactly the same message that the Rod and Gun Club’s Gary Krestinsky and Brian Gadbois brought to City Council as a rebuttal to Chan-MacLeod.
“I think everyone is in agreement on the dangers between Revelstoke and Shelter Bay,” Gadbois, a former BC Hydro biologist who is extremely familiar with the river. “It’s not a place for casual Sunday boating. The Rod and Gun Club isn’t opposed to the Centennial Park maintenance project but if you want to do something for the anglers of Revelstoke, Hydro should spend its money on Shelter Bay. Shelter Bay is in deep need of repair. There is cement hanging in open air in some spots. Putting $124,000 into the Shelter Bay launch would give it a new lease on life.”
Overshadowing this discussion was the issue of liability — something Councillor Phil Welock noted when he suggested that perhaps the whole process should be started over.
“God forbid we hold another meeting but at least we’d hear from more people,” he said.
Krestinsky cautioned that “the more boaters you put out there the greater the risk” and he suggested that the water right comptroller be invited for a tour of the river and its dangers “to see just what he’s approved.”
That may yet happen but not any time soon.
Councillor Chris Johnston suggested that the boat ramp repairs be deferred for a year “pending further investigation.”
Council agreed unanimously with that suggestion, with the exception of Councillor Peter Frew who recused himself from the Council Chambers while this issue was discussed. Frew has a contract to measure use at boat ramps along the river.