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Rhythm Dragons ask for a piece of waterfront in vision of expansion

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
March 6th, 2017

A sport that is growing in popularity in the region has asked for a toehold on the undeveloped waterfront land the city now finds itself the owner of.

The Kootenay Rhythm Dragons (KRD) have asked to partner with the city (and the regional district) to develop a moorage, docking and clubhouse at the proposed new park at the bay at Cottonwood Creek, recently vacant after the city moved its transfer station to Grohman Narrows.

Mary Walters, community liaison with the land acquisition committee for KRD, said dragon boating is the fastest growing water sport internationally, and with requests for additional teams in the region, Kootenay Rhythm Dragons are looking toward expansion but they need the room to do it.

“We are a real contributing member to this community,” she said. “Now at this point in our history, we need some help to continue our work.”

The club has been paddling for 12 years with two competitive teams and one recreational team. During that time KRD has operated from the private beach at 570 Vahalla St. with the support of honorary member Donna Wright.

Dragon boat practices take place five times per week, while equipment and winter storage is also located at this beach.

“But, in order to move forward with the fulfillment of our strategic plan expansion, a new location is required,” said Walters, adding the KRD wants to add youth, senior and mixed teams to its membership.

The request is for foreshore area to build a dock to the moor up to four dragon boats.

Requirements of the location include:

  • Permanent dock to accommodate up to four dragon boats, including a safety boat;
  • Secure area for storage;
  • Building to accommodate boat storage, equipment storage, office, multipurpose area and washrooms, approximately 30 by 60 feet;
  • Adequate parking for 20 vehicles for practices and expanded parking for festivals;
  • Road access; and
  • Park venue for hosting dragon boat festivals.

Creation of the park would be an extension to the waterfront beautification project, Walters said.

“The KRD Association is committed to be steward of the park area and maintain the dock area,” she said. “With the creation of this permanent location the future goals of KRD are to bring dragon boat festivals to Nelson.”

Mayor Deb Kozak told Walters the city was working with the regional district at this time on what to do with the property.

“This area is designated park area,” she said. “We are looking at all of the remediation that needs to take place. A detailed planning for that end has not taken place at this point.”

What is dragon boating?

Kootenay Rhythm Dragons is a non-profit charitable organization established in Nelson in 2004. The purposes of the club are to raise community awareness of breast cancer survivorship, improve the health and wellbeing of the members and participate in the fun of dragon boating on Kootenay Lake.

From a beginning of 20 paddlers the group has grown to 84 women raging in age from 35 to 88 years old. The club has had the support of the community in purchasing their 47-ft. dragon boat.

From participation in the first Penticton Dragon boat festival in 2005, the club has expanded beyond Nelson to the surrounding communities. The club has two competitive teams which practice two times per week, and one recreational team practicing on Saturday mornings.

The teams have participated in festivals in the Okanagan, Harrison Hot Springs, Kamloops, Lethbridge, Alberta. Breast Cancer survivor team members have represented Nelson in the International Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Festivals in Vancouver, Caloundra (Australia), Peterborogh (Ontario) and Sarasota (Florida).

Categories: General

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