Boaters have for years been challenged launching their boats at Big Rock Boat Launch during low tide, a situation the city hopes to remedy with the work scheduled to begin this summer. Mirror File Photo

Big Rock Boat Ramp work will happen in two phases, beginning this summer

Phase 1 is the in-water work and should not affect highway traffic, the city says

The City of Campbell River recently announced that the long-anticipated upgrades to the popular Big Rock Boat Ramp are planned to start this summer.

This week, they announced exactly what that project will entail.

“This summer’s upgrades include all of the in-water upgrades, such as improvements to the breakwaters and installation of a floating ramp system,” according to the city’s release this week on the work schedule.

Mayor Andy Adams says he’s excited to finally see the project go ahead. Council has been trying for years to get funding to improve the boat launch. They’ve had a “shovel-ready” plan in place for at least the last two years so they could be ready to begin work as soon as funding was available.

“This project is important to many people and we’re glad to see it moving forward,” Adams says. “Valuable input from community user groups and many years of assessment have led to the design plan – one that will result in an enhanced in-water area and many years of improved enjoyment for visitors and residents of the city.”

Future Big Rock Boat Ramp improvements would involve upgrades to the upland areas at the facility, including the parking area and neighbouring park. Concepts for this future work at the boat ramp will be developed through 2018/19 during design preparation for the Highway 19A project. The timing of this work will be determined by council in future.

Speaking of timing, some have questioned why the city would undertake this kind of work during the summer, when tourists flock to town and adding extra traffic volume to that section of road.

AJ Laurie commented online on the initial Mirror story announcing the funding for the highway upgrades – of which the boat ramp work will be part – saying “that’s going to put a lot more traffic on Alder and Dogwood (streets), right at the peak travel time for the year.”

But the city says the timing is restricted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans requires that construction be completed during designated fish protection windows from mid-June to October, which would require the closure of the boat ramp during that period,” the city release says.

And the work – at least phase 1 – shouldn’t impact traffic at all, according to the city’s web page on the project.

“There will be no major disruptions to highway traffic or surrounding areas during the first phase of the Big Rock boat ramp upgrades in the spring/summer of 2018,” the website says. “The majority of the work will take place in the water, and all nearby homes and businesses will be accessible as usual.”

Once the disruptions do begin, Adams says, it’s important that they only happen once.

“The potential for timing the upland work at the boat ramp in conjunction with the sewer and highway upgrades in this area helps reduce costs and disruption along the route because construction that affects that portion of the roadway will occur over the same stretch of time.”

Other boat ramp operators in the Campbell River area have been advised of the anticipated closure and are ready for additional activity this summer, the city release says. For more information on alternative boat launch options, visit campbellriver.ca/bigrockboatramp.

Community groups and area businesses have been invited to meet with the city at open houses later this month for more information on the upcoming work happening along the highway. Others are welcome to join the discussion at two public events being held at the Maritime Heritage Centre April 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. and April 18 from 5 to 7 p.m.

For more information on this project and others underway this summer, visit campbellriver.ca/construction

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