A boater makes use of the Big Rock Boat Ramp which will be getting a facelift after a proposed plan is approved by city council

Boat ramp plan doesn’t rock Campbell River mayor

The ramp is expected to be replaced in order to extend its length to avoid vehicles getting stuck during low tide

Council got a clearer picture Tuesday night as to how the city plans to improve the Big Rock Boat Ramp but not everyone was supportive of the changes.

The project will involve ramp upgrades as well as upland improvements.

The ramp is expected to be replaced in order to extend its length to avoid vehicles getting stuck during low tide and to improve traction on the ramp, said Ross Milnthorp, the city’s parks, recreation, and culture manager, in a report to council.

The breakwater will also be improved.

“Boaters identified the need to raise the breakwaters to decrease wave action in the basin as the waves make launching challenging on windy days,” Milnthorp said. “As well, improvements to the breakwaters will enlarge the launch basin and minimize sediment deposits which will help to decrease maintenance.”

Other aspects of the project include a seasonal float or jetty which boaters can tie up to while parking their vehicles and to help with embarking and disembarking their boats, accessible washrooms and picnic tables.

But Mayor Walter Jakeway said he expected to see more.

“I’m disappointed the vision is so narrow,” Jakeway said. “I don’t think the Big Rock Boat Ramp site where it is, is where we really want to be. We lost the Tyee Spit boat ramp unceremoniously a few years ago when it was removed with little notice. So our boating community is running low on space.”

Jakeway said the city should broaden its vision and look at other spots around the community where it could build something bigger, with more parking available.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be that boat ramp, there are other possibilities in the neighbourhood,” Jakeway said “Yes it’s going to cost more but we’ve got to replace a boat ramp that was taken out that was doing a good job. If we’re going to be the Salmon Capital of the World we’ve got (to invest) in boat ramps. Our people are going out through a little sliver of a boat ramp and it’s not good enough.”

Jakeway was also concerned about parking, which will not be expanded with the construction. Capacity is expected to remain at 20 spaces due to the fact McCallum Park was donated to the city under the condition it be used for park purposes.

“The Big Rock Boat Ramp was full on a monday morning at 10:30, on a Monday morning. What are we going to do on a holiday weekend?” Jakeway said. “What we’re doing is just not big enough. We’re going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and not get anything for it.”

Coun. Larry Samson was also concerned that parking was not being expanded and Coun. Ron Kerr asked if the city had looked at other areas nearby that could be turned into a parking lot.

Milnthorp said he would suggest that if properties come up for sale in the area, that council seriously consider purchasing it as an auxiliary space for parking.

The complete design for the boat ramp is expected to be complete in mid-to-late October so there could potentially be some room for change.

The improvements outlined by Milnthorp in his report were generated through a city consultant, parks staff, and a focus group of frequent Big Rock Boat Ramp users working together. A public open house was held to present two schematic designs, followed by a second public open house where the preliminary design was presented.