By James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Bob Lake Association wants to enter into a lease agreement with Minden Hills that would lead to a boat launch for members.
The public boat launch was closed in 2016. Since then association members have had no means to launch watercraft, Robert Roszell told council Jan. 12 during its public meeting.
It’s hoped the Bob Lake Community Boat Launch could be built on the Claude Brown unopened road allowance.
“We also know from our own site analysis that this location is the only viable property on Bob Lake for a boat launch in terms of topography and public access,” he wrote. “With the BLA responsible for all costs associated with the construction, maintenance, and insurance, the proposal addresses the township’s concerns around cost and liability.”
Roszell said the boat launch’s construction and maintenance wouldn’t cost the township anything.
The design will be of concrete slabs and it would be on township property.
He said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has assessed the proposed site and is satisfied that no fish habitat and spawning beds would be harmed by the project.
“We are hoping the agreement will be similar to the ones used by Minden Hills today,” he said. “It will have merit for longevity for both parties moving forward.”
Dave Roberts, a director at association, said there’s been several private boat launches constructed on Bob Lake since the association’s public launch was closed. And, he said, there are several more private launches in the works.
“This has definitely got a positive shoreline impact for us on the lake,” Roberts said.
Councillor Tammy McKelvey said the reference to a community boat launch indicates it will be gated somehow to restrict public access.
“There’s a lot of details that we haven’t figured out,” Roberts said., and added that there are no plans for video surveillance at the site.
A combination locked gate and signage is possibly in the works.
“But those are details that we really haven’t discussed and firmed up,” he said. “We wanted to secure permission through this lease agreement before all those things were hashed out.”
Basically, the association is proposing to close off a road allowance that leads to water. And, McKelvey said, such a move goes against the town’s planning policies.
“The other concern I have, of course, is the erosion … that’s going to end up in the lake,” McKelvey said. “While I really want to see a public boat launch on Bob Lake, I really don’t think this location is ideal for that purpose.”
Roberts said the association has in the past submitted “a rather exhaustive” assessment of the entire lake with a view toward public access. A major obstacle has been shoreline topography.
“There’s a lot of launches that would let the boat in but … wouldn’t let the boat out,” he said. “While it might not be the ideal location, it certainly meets all the criteria.”
Roberts said the proposed location had been the site for boat launches since the 1970s.
Closing access by way of a gate would be to prevent vehicle access, he said. It wouldn’t block foot traffic.
“It wouldn’t be that kind of a gate in any way,” he said.
Roszell said the proposed launch has been designed in such a way as to safeguard against erosion and runoff being flushed into the water.
“It’s been extensively researched, as you can see, from both civil engineering and from the environmental side of it,” Roszell said.
Roberts added that the launch could, in fact, help prevent erosion at the shoreline.
Mayor Bob Carter said this has been an issue before council for a number of years. He said considerable time and money and effort has been put into the issue.
He suggested council receive the lease proposal as an information item and refrain from a decision.
“We need to do a little bit more work on this,” Carter said. “As you can well imagine, we not only have received this presentation, but we have also received some comments from the public.”
Some of those comments are in support of the association, while “many” are against the boat launch.
“We have to do all those considerations,” Carter said.
In the end, council agreed to kick the issue to town staff for evaluation.