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Grohman Creek residents lobby city for foreshore access to build and maintain dock

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
February 19th, 2016

A small, primarily boat access community west of Nelson is asking the city to share its foreshore and insure boat shoring for its residents as they work and shop in the city.

Steven Thomson of the Grohman Creek Docking Society presented a proposal to city council Monday night regarding the granting of a section of Nelson’s foreshore to the society as a long-term solution to access for their tiny community of up to 65 people.

The society asked council for a letter of intent so it could move forward with an application for the foreshore to the federal government, and advance its application for a development plan, budgeting and design for a new dock.

And, with the city in the midst of crafting a Waterfront Plan — and determining a direction for the now vacant transfer station lands — council was receptive to the residents’ presentation.

The residents of Grohman Creek are primarily a boat access community with a seasonal secondary road access via Kalesnikoff Forestry Road (April 15 to Dec. 1). Both the Ministry of Highways and the regional district deem Grohman Creek as “boat access,” Thomson explained.

Many residents of the community access Nelson on a daily basis for employment, shopping and health care but there is very limited and inconsistent boat parking for them to do so, Thomson explained.

“We are requesting that the city of Nelson consider a partnership which would grant foreshore for a dock for the residents of Grohman Creek,” he said.

The location the society is interested in is the bay southwest of Cottonwood Creek near the old transfer station.

But council itself is not even sure how it will use the waterfront land it holds, said Coun. Anna Purcell. Counc. Robin Cherbo agreed.

“I’d like to get this resolved, but I don’t know what that solution is,” he said, noting the society’s request should be “on the radar” for future discussions on the waterfront.

And now that the transfer station has been re-located, said Mayor Deb Kozak, the question of what to do with that section of the city’s waterfront can be tackled.

“Those things are slowly evolving and, as you know, there are other landowners down there — CP Rail, some private land as well as the city — so we are working together to find some solutions and a long-term plan for the area,” she said.

Council agreed the matter should go to city planning for consideration, and discussion in council as to what to do.

Thomson said all community members currently have different arrangements for boat parking in Nelson. Some residents park their boats on the beach, some use the Nelson City Wharf by the Prestige Hotel and some are members of the Kootenay Launch Club.

“But all options are very restrictive,” said Thomson.

Annually there are two months (mid-March to mid-May) when boats cannot park at the launch club because of low water, which forces residents of the community to park at the small city dock or somewhere along the shoreline.
However, there is often a lack of parking spaces and residents are occasionally forced to park illegally at the float plane dock, Thomson explained.

“The summer creates extra pressure on limited boat parking as many more locals and tourists are boating,” said Thomson.

Grohman Creek itself has a community dock — built and financed in 2010 for $80,000 — under which the society pays annual fees of $300 per spot to maintain it, as well as organizing community work parties.

“If the city of Nelson granted us a foreshore, a dock on the Nelson waterfront would be financed and managed under this same umbrella,” said society president Jeff Maulden in a letter to council.

The proposed private dock would accommodate Grohman Creek residents, Baldface Lodge and the Dragon boat. In a draft handed to council, the dock was designed to be 158 feet long, 58 feet wide and accommodate up to 28 boats.

As well, the society proposed a lakefront city campground with local walking trails.

The society felt, since the city was in the process of creating a Waterfront Plan, it should discuss the possibility of a foreshore application.

“This would also take the pressure off the existing public wharf and float plane dock,” said Maulden.

The community dock in Grohman Creek not only serves the 65 residents but also Baldface Cat Skiing operations. In total there are approximately 18 boats that go into Nelson on a regular basis.

Maulden said he expected that number of boat trips to grow since there are “landowners who are not living here currently, but will be in the next three to five years.”

He noted in the letter to council that the location near the former transfer station offered many positive benefits.

“Most importantly, it would improve safety by avoiding the strong north winter winds,” he said. “It is the shortest crossing offering less noise pollution and fuel consumption, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The proposed location also offers deep water all year round, Maulden pointed out.

Thomson stated that the society hoped that nearby vehicle parking could be accommodated for those residents who keep a vehicle in town, currently less than a dozen.

In the proposed design, the private dock would be partnered with 36 stalls of parking on city land.

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