Taghum/Blewett boaters in desperate need of a boat launch
By Randi Jensen, The Nelson Daily
Once again any hope of launching a boat west of Grohman Narrows on Kootenay Lake has been squashed, this time permanently by concrete barricades placed by Teck that blocks any road entrance to the water.
The location of the ad-hoc boat launch is on Fisherman’s Pit Road near Blewett.
Problems for boaters wanting to use the quiet Kootenay Lake arm began in 2010 when Teck sold a property with a small boat launch beside Taghum Hall.
The site was well used by the public, which was quickly curtailed when the new owners blocked access.
Boaters then moved to the next available boat launch spot — another Teck property but with no services, parking or wharf.
Teck posted no trespassing signs but boaters have continued to use the site.
The site is the only place available to launch vessels for boaters wanting to avoid driving through Grohman Narrows, west of Nelson.
Catherine Adair Public Relations Officer with Teck Cominco reports that people using the property have no authorization to use it and that it is currently being assessed for mine tailing from the old Kenville Mine.
In 2012 Teck contracted SNC Lavalin Engineering to conduct a detailed site inspection and who have been collecting both surface and ground water samples as well as conducting soil and sediment for analysis.
“Teck understands that the community wants a boat launch and has been supporting that discussion,” Adair said.
In January 2012 Tech hosted a community meeting, which focused on information gathering and plan on hosting a second meeting early in 2014 to share findings from the engineering company.
According to Taghum Community Hall president Linda Barber, the decision to close the Fisherman’s Pit location not only affects recreational boaters but also the local Volunteer Fire Department.
“We need a safe, accessible, public boat launch here,” said Barber.
A recently formed Boat Launch Committee, spearheaded by Cheryl Hicks is at the ‘idea stage’ and welcomes public contribution and involvement.
So far the committee have been in contact with Front Counter BC in Cranbrook in efforts to clarify land ownership.
Hicks said that it is not only water access but parking also needs to be considered.
Over the past summer the area was quite congested and dangerous at times.
Hicks was unaware of the concrete barricades that Teck recently installed to block access.
Regional District of Central Kootenay Directors, Ramona Faust (Area E) and Ron Mickel (Area F) are aware of the problems around the boat launch issue.
Faust is of the opinion that Teck is willing to work in partnership with the community and is working towards that end by putting their resources into conservation and remediation.
In the meantime she is under the firm assumption that Teck doesn’t want to give the public free access because of liability issues.
Recently, the RDCK purchased a parcel of land in the area to expand the park footprint thereby solving some public access and parking issues.
Ideas are floating around about using the old Taghum bridge abutments to build a footbridge, expanding biking and hiking trails and incorporating the Taghum Hall and the Horse Club with other park amenities.
But, it is a complex area and Teck is not the only landowner, there is also government owned land as well as private land to consider.
Both Faust and Mickel agree that some of the groundwork is in place but what is needed in order to proceed is a strong representing body from the community.
There is resistance to increased taxation so there is a limit as to how fast the RDCK can move.
Anyone wanting to get involved in the Boat Launch Committee should contact Hicks at email@example.com