The riprap at Robert Ostler Park is in need of replacement after storm damage. The other option the city is proposing is the creation of a natural beach slope.

Paddlers want beach access at Robert Ostler Park

The crew that crosses Discovery Passage every summer is encouraging council to pursue beach access at Robert Ostler Park

The crew that crosses Discovery Passage every summer is encouraging council to pursue  beach access at Robert Ostler Park.

Geoff Goodship, longtime organizer of the annual Discovery Passage Passage between Campbell River and Quadra Island, said it would be an ideal launch point for paddle boaters.

“The development of a beach at Robert Ostler Park will indeed be of great interest and a great improvement from where we have launched for the past eight or nine years,” Goodship told council at its Feb. 10 meeting. “It’s an area that is difficult to get into, you have to carry a boat down stairs through a narrow passageway and the area is often dirty and the cement is cracked and uneven and there have been a few minor accidents caused because of this circumstance.”

Goodship said having proper access to the water at Robert Ostler would be a “big improvement” for the roughly 140 paddlers who cross from Campbell River to Cape Mudge Village on Quadra Island each year.

“It’s my belief that Ostler Park will be a lot better used,” Goodship said. “Other than the Discovery Passage group there are canoe clubs and kayak clubs in town and I believe they will be encouraged by this. I also think it will be a benefit to the number of tourists passing through.”

The city is currently debating the merits of establishing either a 200-metre long beach along part of Robert Ostler Park or, replacing the existing riprap which has taken a beating during recent storms.

The cost of either option would be fully funded through the Federal Gas Tax, rather than property taxes.

The city hosted a public open house on Jan. 22 and issued a survey at the end of January to get public input.

While the city is still weighing its options, Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said the city is trying to work with Mother Nature to minimize damage to the foreshore.

“While either option offers long-term protection from erosion, a natural beach slope would do a better job of managing wave energy and minimize the amount of damage and debris clean-up from storms,” Milnthorp said.

Goodship, meanwhile, believes the beach idea is a good one.

“I think it will be quite attractive – no palm trees – but nevertheless, I think it will be a beautiful beach,” Goodship said. “I’m highly in favour of the development of that beach as I’m sure a lot of other people who paddle are.”

In the meantime, the city is planning to undertake foreshore rehabilitation work starting in August and continuing on until October.

This year’s annual Discovery Passage Passage takes place Saturday, Aug. 22.