The city may annually close the Ken Forde public boat launch for six months.
Each year winter storms leave the boat ramp littered with debris and inaccessible until the city is able to clear it out come spring.
At Tuesday’s strategic meeting, city council supported the complete closure of Ken Forde from October to the end of April.
“Council approved a resolution to operate and maintain Ken Forde from the beginning of May to the end of September but Big Rock (the city’s other free public launch) and Discovery Harbour will remain open year-round,” said Ross Milnthorp, the city’s manager of parks, recreation and culture. “However, no decision is official until council approves it at the next council meeting.”
The boat ramp is located south of Willow Point across from Rona, at the end of a stretch of open beach, in the zone of greatest natural deposition of debris and settlement, according to a study of the city’s foreshore.
“The Marine Foreshore Habitat Assessment determined that the area of shoreline at Ken Forde boat launch experiences the largest waves in the entire 16 kilometre study area, indicating that this area is particularly unsuitable for a boat ramp structure,” Milnthorp said.
Nevertheless, the city has no plans to permanently close Ken Forde unless discussions with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to allow the city to stockpile materials fall through.
Currently the city is not allowed to clear sediment from the boat launch and stockpile it until it’s ready to be relocated. However, Milnthorp said DFO seems willing to reconsider that stipulation.
“If we are able to negotiate temporary sediment storage into the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Ken Forde boat ramp could be cleared on an as needed basis during the recommended annual opening period,” Milnthorp said.
“If we are not able to negotiate temporary sediment storage into the MOU, (city) staff will be recommending that we close Ken Forde boat launch permanently. The ability to stockpile material is critical to maintaining and operating the boat ramp.”
Another aspect of the memorandum with DFO is the city’s ability to have a preliminary schedule to dictate where material from both Ken Forde and Big Rock boat ramps will be going each year.
“The Memorandum of Understanding is built on including a list of sites that we’re going to restore and when and where we’re going to do that,” Milnthorp said.
“Having said that, that schedule of priority sites would be flexible based on weather events during the winter.
“Essentially, it’s really all about protecting the foreshore and about making sure the foreshore is here to enhance the quality of life for generations into the future.”
Fortunately, despite the nuisance to boaters trying to access the boat ramp, the material is perfect for renourishing badly eroded sections of beach front.
This summer, the sediment cleared from Ken Forde was spread along the beach in an area just north of Rotary Park.
Milnthorp said DFO supports the city’s foreshore management plan and initial talks surrounding a Memorandum of Understanding have been very encouraging.
“The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is pleased to see the City of Campbell River taking a proactive approach,” Milnthorp said.
Meanwhile, the city is working on a design process for the upgrade of the Big Rock boat launch, located just north of Willow Point. Designs will cost the city $70,000 which will come out of the Parks Parcel Tax. The city intends to begin work on the boat launch in 2012, pending council approval of funding for the construction.
The Big Rock boat ramp basin actually collects more material than Ken Forde does but it is stored in an area that does not block access to the breakwater.