Launches and liabilities
The situation that’s unfolded at Bob Lake, just south of Minden, during the summer is a mess.
Earlier this season, residents discovered that, after numerous boats had been put in the lake for the year, access to a long-used boat launch was blocked with a wall of large rocks.
The boat launch, although it’s been the main point of access to the lake for its residents for at least the past couple of generations, is actually located on private property. For years, many, including the local government, were under the impression the launch was publicly owned. The property owners, who are selling the property, have decided they would prefer residents launch their boats elsewhere.
But with no publicly owned boat launch on Bob Lake, it leaves residents with few options.
And their boats stranded in the water.
This seems unfair and it’s certainly easy to empathize with cottagers who, doing the same thing they’ve done for years and years, showed up at the ramp earlier this season and unsuspectingly launched their boats.
However, all stories have two sides. Usually more.
According to the property owner, the situation stems from an incident last summer, where a boat owner whose boat had gotten loose at the launch told him the launch was unsafe.
“I don’t need the liability,” the owner told me on the phone last week.
In an age where lawsuits get launched over bad haircuts and hot coffee, one can also see where he is coming from.
Along with a chain barrier, he said he put up a sign explaining the situation and that after the sign was twice ripped down, he resorted to the rocks.
Enter Minden Hills township, which has been called upon by lake residents to do something and which has been seeking legal advice and exploring options.
There is no easy solution here and whatever the eventual solution is, it will likely cost a great deal of money, time, possibly both, on behalf the township or lake residents, possibly both.
The simplest solution would be for residents to collectively purchase the property. However, that would also of course be expensive, particularly given that the lake’s at-capacity status means the launch cannot be severed from the rest of the property.
There is a legal route where, because of what residents say is decades of unchallenged use of the property, a prescriptive easement could be issued that would guarantee access.
That could also be expensive and, according to the reeve, probably take at least a couple of years to come to fruition.
In the meantime, as summer draws to a close, it would seem reasonable for the property owner to remove the rock barricade to at least allow Bob Lake residents to remove their boats for this year.