A boat launch for Bob Lake
By Chad Ingram
Published Dec. 14, 2017
The Township of Minden Hills should construct a new public boat launch on Bob Lake.
This may seem an outlandish statement. Ensuring public access to waterbodies is not something municipalities are required to do. However, the situation at Bob Lake is an anomaly.
As regular readers of this publication will be aware, in 2016, a long-used boat launch on Bob Lake, long-believed to a publicly owned one, was barricaded by the owner of the property where it is located.
It turned out, despite being used by lake residents for generations, and despite being advertised as a municipally owned launch, the launch was located on private property. The family that owns the property decided they no longer wanted people using the boat launch, as is their right.
While councillors looked for potential long-term solutions through last winter, that search proved unfruitful, and this boating season Bob Lake residents – there are about 250 properties on the lake – were left to their own devices.
Up until this fall, Bob Lake had been without a property owners’ association, residents instead represented by a series of roads associations. Wisely, residents have banded together and, in September, formed the Bob Lake Association, which will provide them with a unified voice.
Members of that association came before Minden Hills council earlier this month, with a proposal to construct a boat launch on a municipally owned shoreline road allowance along Claude Brown Road. In what councillors noted was a well-researched presentation, association representatives requested the municipality cover the cost of the construction of that boat launch, at about $30,000.
There was mixed reaction to the suggestion on the Times’s social media channels.
“Don’t hold your breath for the town to pay,” wrote one reader.
“Nor should it,” responded another.
And that’s fair. Using tax dollars to construct a public launch on Lake A could certainly create a precedent for residents of Lake B to say they also want a publicly funded boat ramp. As mentioned earlier, this is not something that is a municipal responsibility.
However, the situation at Bob Lake is an anomaly. It is an anomaly because the township played a role in the years’ long confusion that the launch was publicly owned. That’s the catch, and it makes all the difference.
While the township has no legal obligation to construction a public boat launch on Bob Lake, one could argue it has an ethical obligation to.
Put yourself in the place of a Bob Lake resident, one who purchased a property on the lake with the understanding it had a public boat launch, then, poof, that asset is suddenly gone.
And, a public ramp would not be for use solely by lake residents.
As another reader pointed out on the paper’s Facebook page, “a publicly funded boat launch is a good idea, provided everyone understands that it’s for public use (not just property owners).”
The proposal is a relatively inexpensive and simple solution to a complicated problem.