Posted May 8, 2019
KELOWNA - The “volatile” lakeshore north of Mission Creek will continue to disrupt boaters until some key people find a way to agree with each other on a permanent solution.
Right now, the Cook Road boat launch is temporarily closed for dredging – as it has been for at least the last five years – while there is erosion near Mission Shores just north of the creek.
Robert Parlane is the City of Kelowna Parks Planning Manager who’s trying to find a way to keep the sand out of the boat launch. He has to negotiate with the province and landowners between Mission Creek and Rotary Beach to try to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
“It’s a very tricky one just because it’s a very complex group of people with different aspirations and the modelling is very complex as well,” he told iNFOnews.ca.
It seems some people along what he called the “volatile” shoreline want more sand while others want less.
He’s hoping it won’t take years more to find a solution.
He estimates a large amount of sand was flushed out of Mission Creek in 1997. Wave action is moving it northward at a rate of about 16 metres a year, which has created the problems at the boat launch over the last few years.
Physical structures in the lake can change how the sand is deposited. For example, he explained, the floating dock to the north side of the boat launch stops the waves, causing them to deposit sand, which adds to the problem.
He says there are lots of options for a solution but wouldn’t offer any examples.
In the meantime, it’s costing the city about $100,000 a year to dredge the boat launch ($125,000 was budgeted by city council this week for 2019), which has got at least one park advocate outraged.
“That's over half a million dollars over the last five years, just for dredging,” Al Janusas said in an email to iNFOnews.ca. “That's a lot of tax money that could have been better spent elsewhere.”
Janusas is the man behind PLANKelowna (Pandosy Lakeshore Active Neighbourhoods of Kelowna) and he argues the money spent on dredging could be better spent on things like developing a small park to connect the Maude Roxby wetland to Royal Avenue beach access (a project, Parlane said, is in the budget for this year) and fixing the trail between Maude Roxby and Strathcona Park.
In fact, Janusas says, the boat launch is simply in the wrong place and should be abandoned, suggesting moving it to city-owned land on Manhattan Point, for example.
“It’s certainly not an ideal location,” Parlane agreed.
But siting a new boat launch is not easily done.
The city does not own much land on Manhattan Point, Parlane said, noting that a boat launch needs a lot of space for parking and maneuvering the big boats and trailers.
The city did close its deep keel boat launch at the foot of Queensway a few years ago.
Parlane explained that a study was done and found only about 30 people used that boat launch in a season.
It wasn’t so much that parking wasn’t available. It was hard to move the boats and trailers around given it was on such a busy pedestrian corridor, he said.
“The land is more valuable to the city for other park uses,” Parlane said.
So, with no boat launch alternatives in sight, it comes down to finding a way to deal with the Mission Creek sand and that means finding a way to build consensus amongst the neighbours.
The dredging is expected to take three to four weeks. The cleaned sand will be trucked to Rotary Beach, which has been losing sand for years.