Minden Hills township, lake association at odds over boat launch
By Chad Ingram
Published Feb. 8, 2018
Staff for the Township of Minden Hills say a public boat launch proposal from the Bob Lake Association would cost much more than what the association has estimated.
Members of the association had visited township councillors in December with their pitch, which is the construction of a concrete-slab boat launch on a road allowance along Claude Brown Road, which is a municipally maintained road.
In 2016, the owner of the Bob Lake property that houses a long-used boat launch barricaded the launch to the public. For many years, there was a misunderstanding, including by Minden Hills township, that the launch was publicly owned.
Association members told councillors that, according to their estimations, the project at Claude Brown Road should cost $30,000, and require relatively little maintenance thereafter.
However, a report from Minden Hills planner Ian Clendening noted a number of concerns with the proposed project, which, in his estimation would actually carry a price tag of more than $180,000.
One concern is traffic safety.
“The primary concern identified by the township’s roads superintendent is the fact that Claude Brown Road traverses directly though the proposed travel path of vehicles loading/unloading boats. Based on the concept plan provided, the existing shoreline is two metres from the edge of the south westerly limit of the travelled road and three metres at the south easterly limit. Claude Brown Road separates the launch area from the associated parking and turn around area.
“This arrangement would not be desirable as traffic would be forced to either stop or navigate around vehicles manoeuvring for a proper alignment into the water. This is compounded by the relatively narrow width of the proposed boat launch which would make reversing down the boat launch more difficult and therefore more time-consuming.”
The area also entails private property, something that was also a concern for Clendening.
“Due to the fact that Claude Brown Road becomes a private road over private property to the west of the road allowance it is not within the township’s right to realign the private road’s approach leading up to the launch site, without pursuing expropriation,” his report reads.
Further, it indicates the township only owns about half a snow plow turnaround area that would be used for parking under the proposal.
Other concerns were environmental in nature.
“If pursued, the development of the boat launch would require the removal of the existing vegetation along the shoreline, including several mature trees. The sloped area opposite Claude Brown Road would also be cleared of vegetation and topped with gravel.
“The environmental concerns with removing the shoreline vegetation are compounded in this situation given as the resultant development would have no vegetation between the road and the lake, and there is no barrier between the larger turnaround area sloped behind Claude Brown Road and Bob Lake.
“Bob Lake is identified as an ‘at capacity’ lake trout lake based on existing and modelled water quality conditions conducted by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources and is reflected on Schedule B of the [Minden Hills] official plan.”
All of this work, including grading, tree removal, legal and property acquisition costs, the purchase of the concrete pad, as well as a contingency budget for the project would, according to Clendening’s report, total more than $182,000.
The association is taking issue with this figure, and released a letter to council on Jan. 30 concerning the staff report.
“Needless to say, we have a significant number of concerns with its content that must be heard by council,” the letter reads. “It is unfortunate that major elements of this report were not shared in any form of draft communications with the BLA. Going forward we hope to work in a more collaborative fashion with the township. The BLA firmly believes, in contrast to many of the conclusions within the report, that our original proposal is the best solution available to restore public boat launch access for Bob Lake. It provides the lowest cost option as it does not require any land acquisition. It’s the only option clear of public right-of-way issues, and is by far the most environmentally friendly option given it will avoid the inevitable construction of many future private launches.”
The letter goes on to outline the association’s alternatives to concerns raised in Clendening’s report.
Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin told the Times that, while no money will be allotted for a boat launch project on Bob Lake in the 2018 budget, it’s not a closed case in terms of a possible solution.
“We’re continuing the discussion,” Devolin said, adding council did have both legal and insurance-related concerns with the proposed project.
“Have we given up on Bob Lake, for a solution?” he said. “No, we have not given up.”