Ramp debris to be removed

Ken Forde Boat Ramp is slated to open to boaters on Canada Day after city plans to remove and dump gravel clogging up the ramp were approved late last week

Ken Forde Boat Ramp is slated to open to boaters on Canada Day after city plans to remove and dump gravel clogging up the ramp were approved late last week.

The free, public boat ramp has been covered in debris since last winter and impossible to use. Big Rock Boat Ramp is also littered with logs and gravel but boaters can access it, using the left side of the ramp.

Both are expected to be cleaned up this week after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) approved the use of the gravel for foreshore re-nourishment.

“It’s actually precious material that – if it wasn’t getting hung up at the boat ramps – would continue up the foreshore and nourish the beaches that are starved,” said Ross Milnthorp, the city’s manager of parks, recreation and culture. “In some ways, and boaters would not agree with me on this, the material clogging the boat ramps is a blessing because it’s exactly the material we need to re-nourish the foreshore.”

The gravel will be distributed along the beach front just north of Rotary Park, and across from Best Western, where winter storms damaged the beach and parts of the Sea Walk.

“The long-term solution for foreshore protection is for us to work with mother nature and use the material that clogs the ramps to nourish starved beaches at key locations,” said Milnthorp. “Nourishing the beach is a very effective and cost efficient way to protect the shoreline.

“It looks natural, keeps land from washing into the sea, restores habitat and protects infrastructure.”

Beach front at the Tyee Spit in the winter of 2007-08 and at Ellis Park, at the bottom of Rockland Road, in 2009 has already benefited from gravel that washed up at Ken Forde Boat Ramp. Both beaches were destroyed but have been completely restored. When selecting this year’s site, the city also took into account forage fish, which make up about 80 per cent of a salmon’s diet, said Neil Borecky, applications analyst for the city.

“After we chose the site north of Rotary, we tested the area for forage fish eggs to make sure we’re not putting material on top of the forage fish eggs,” said Milnthorp.

The city hopes to soften the shore in the Rotary Park beach area by creating a gradual slope and removing hard shoreline material like rip rap (large rocks) to slow erosion.

A recent study conducted by the city, a foreshore assessment, determined the eroded section of beach would be the best location for the gravel and the easiest area to get approval for.

“The Rotary Beach design works have already been done and this is just an extension of an existing project,” said Milnthorp. “So it was much quicker for the Department of Fisheries to approve.”

The study identified beach front near Twilingate and Adams Park as areas most in need of re-nourishment but because both sites need to be re-constructed, approval from DFO would have taken longer and held up cleanup at the boat ramps. DFO regulations stipulate the city cannot stockpile gravel while waiting to re-distribute the materials.