More than 45 recreational users eager to see new recreational launching facilities in the Taghum/Blewett area to access the Kootenay River west of Nelson voiced their boating concerns during a Public Open House Wednesday at Blewett Elementary.
The Open House was organized by the Regional District of Central Kootenay as local government officials attempt to find a new spot for recreational boaters to launch their watercraft after a makeshift spot on Fisherman’s Pit Road was closed a few years ago by Teck in Trail.
Teck deemed the lands “contaminated” with age-old tailings from the once active Kenville Mine in Blewett.
“Keep it simple,” said one person attending the meeting. “All we need is a gravel ramp with parking for about 15-20 spots and no amenity areas.”
That voice was echoed by others during the group discussion who, eager to get a new facility built, said there is already support garnered from local businesses ready to donate time free of charge for their excavators to start the building process.
The public attending the meeting were greeted at the door to Blewett Elementary gymnasium by RDCK staff.
Around the gym posted on the walls was informational maps and displays by WSP Engineering, the company tasked with the job of putting the information for the Open House together.
Members of the public were given handouts along with stickers of specific colours to attach to maps they thought would make the best site location and makeup of the new launch site.
The favourite choice of the night for location was a track of waterfront on Granite Road near the old Highway 3A Taghum Bridge site, a short distance west of the RDCK Taghum Beach Regional Park.
A few other choices included the north side of the old Taghum Bridge off Highway 3A near Taghum as well as spots on Fisherman’s Pit Road.
“I think the community came out and there was good representation here from a lot of different kinds of users,” said RDCK Area E Director Ramona Faust.
Faust, along with Area F Director, Tom Newell, are spearheading the process.
“We saw an exchange of ideas and definitely have some preferred sites,” Faust added. “So, I think we did accomplish what we set out to achieve here at this Open House.”
There was a group discussion led by Mark Crowe, Parks Planner at the RDCK, where the public had the opportunity to voice their concerns and direction they felt the project should go.
Elise Pare from WSP Engineering told the meeting the project is currently in Phase One, Feasibility Stage with the public being consulted, costs are being sorted out along with technical assessments of the proposed sites.
Pare said WSP Engineering will take all the information and prepare a comprehensive report for the RDCK completed by January 2018.
Anyone not attending the meeting can still complete a survey available on the RDCK with a deadline of November 21, 2017.
“There remains a lot of questions to answer, of course,” Faust said.
“We started to get into a little bit of the maintenance discussion, which is always contentious,” Faust added.
“The Regional District is determined to take on a project in a certain way so the result makes it safe for the public where a society may want to do it another way.”
Before shovels are in the ground, Pare said the project must complete two additional Phase stages — Phase two — site selection, design, studies — and Phase three — detailed design, funding, permits and, if required, land acquisition.
"You’ can’t speed up permit process," said Faust, believing the project will find the funding to proceed.
"If we need to consult First Nations, they have the right to take as long as they want to complete their part of the process."
"My concerns are ongoing maintenance and usage and so the community may meet with itself and decide to form a stewardship to manage the facility or leave it to us so in that case the final result may look different that if there was a stewardship involved," Faust added.