Nakusp boaters not happy with new ramp
Problems with the new wharf constructed at the Nakusp marina are coming to light, say a group of Nakusp boaters who met on the boat ramp on Monday, Aug. 26.
Concerns about access during lower water levels were at the top of a list of complaints, with some boaters forecasting the ramp could become unusable in the next few weeks.
When asked if BC Hydro had plans to address the issue, Hydro representative Mary Anne Coules said that the Crown corporation’s mandate was only to provide access during the recreational season. According to Coules, Hydro is required under its water license issued by the Comptroller of Water Rights only to provide summer recreational boat access.
“The current forecast indicates that the ramp should be usable for the duration of the recreational season (through to September 30),” Coules told the Arrow Lakes News in an email.
As many boaters in the area know, winter is a very popular time for fishing, with two major fishing derbies that draw hundreds of people and their tourist dollars to the area every year. With the old boat ramp gone, access will now be seasonally limited in a way it never was before.
When told this and then asked if Hydro planned to restore year-round access to the lake with further construction, Coules reiterated that Hydro’s mandate was only to provide summer access, but that Comlubia Power expects to resume construction and build a ramp “to the design standard agreed to by the community.” The completed ramp “will be usable to the same level of access as the previous ramp,” said Coules. Hydro is “hopeful” that this construction will occur in spring, “but there are limitations on predicting and committing to such operations due to uncertainties with inflows and Columbia River Treaty requirements,” Coules told the Arrow Lakes News.
“I’m getting the impression that we’re not taken seriously,” said Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling, “that we’re considered a bother.” The Village is looking into the terms of the Access Order issued by the Comptroller.
And the boaters? Although the plans for the new marina looked good on paper, said some of them, there are now serious problems for fishers and paddlers looking to get out onto the water. Not being able to reach the water is, of course, the biggest one, but the railing to the floating walkway is another obstacle for solo boaters.
“Before I could launch by myself no problem,” said local fisher Joe Williams, “now you need two people, or get wet running around trying to get to your boat before it floats away.” Many of the local boaters are senior citizens, Williams pointed out, and sprinting to catch the boat’s painter just isn’t feasible.
Running down the length of the ramp are two cables wrapped with orange flagging tape to warn of a trip hazard. But the bright colour isn’t enough. While the boaters had their meeting, a boy coming in from the water tripped on the cables not once but twice.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Williams, who pointed to the cables as one of a few hazards. Another is the lack of a barrier on the ramp. Where a beam running along the length of the old ramp prevented trucks launching boats from accidentally backing into the drink, there is now a line of broken rocks, not enough of a guard to stop a vehicle from slipping down into the water said Williams.
Even launching car-top boats such as canoes or kayaks is a trial, with the drop from the floating walkway to the water too far for a paddler to easily step into the boat. Owners of fragile fibreglass vessels who need to launch their boats in water not scraping onto land now have a big drop to contend with.
Fisher John Vander Kroft told the Arrow Lakes News that the ramp is too heavy, and the floating walkway doesn’t move with the water when the level rises.
“Fishermen told them when it was being built that it wasn’t going to move,” said Vander Kroft, shaking his head. Many of the lake goers feel they weren’t consulted as much as told what the plans for the ramp were.
But the main problem isn’t with the construction, it’s one of communication, according to some.
“It seems to me [Hydro and the contractors] are not talking to each other about water levels,” Nakusp Rod and Gun Club’s Hank Scown said, “or they don’t care about raising and lowering water levels.”
Scown’s comments raised mutters from the boaters about the water levels being dictated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with the Basin residents north of the border having little say – particularly those in Nakusp.
Worse, said Scown, people are tired of having promises made and then having their expectations disappointed by Hydro.
“It’s demoralizing,” he said, and there were many nods of agreement. “We’re done for this year unless they come in with slabs of concrete.” And without access to the water in fall and winter, Nakusp will lose one of its best features.