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Model boaters bite back over race course

Record is set straight on Cranberry Lake
Dean Unger

A group of hobbyists racing radio-controlled (RC) model boats on Cranberry Lake want to set the record straight.

In response to a story that appeared in the Powell River Peak regarding a motion to consider a bylaw to restrict gas-powered model boats on Cranberry Lake, local RC boat hobby organizer Jordan Enns explained that the type of model boat racing done on the lake is not an invasive hobby.

Enns, a 20-year veteran of RC racing, is a helicopter engineer. He admits to coming into the hobby through his love of engineering and design. He said that information and a petition offered on behalf of the Cranberry Ratepayers’ Association on March 20 to the City of Powell River committee of the whole, was inaccurate and gave a skewed version of the facts as they unfolded.

“We all are in support of the Cranberry Lake restoration idea and support all the facts as long as they are all true,” said Enns. “We hobbyists love and respect all the little critters, wildlife and waterfowl around the lake. To be honest we felt attacked by the letter sent on behalf of the ratepayers. The letter made numerous statements that represent hobbyists as bad people that do not respect the habitat, the wildlife and the waterfowl there.”

The letter received from the ratepayers and delivered to the committee of the whole specified that residents were concerned about disruption of sensitive bird habitat due to the use of the radio-controlled boats. It also stated that some residents had felt threatened by several individuals in a group of people who were racing the boats at up to 40 miles per hour.

Enns, who races professionally in the United States, participates in four different categories with three different boats and usually places in the top three. “The first half of the competition season takes place in a place called Grant Falls, just east of Everett, Washington,” he said. “The second half of the season is done in Federal Way, just south of Seattle.”

The boat race course is currently set up at the public access to Cranberry Lake at the end of Drake Street. Enns said that when they first set up there they undertook to speak with residents in the area to ensure there would be no problem with conducting their hobby. “I noticed that our presence would not go unaffected,” Enns said, “so I knocked on doors to homes on either side of the access and to those homes that we would be directly in front of with the layout of our course.”

To cover all bases, Enns gave out his contact information to those surrounding residents and attached it to individual course buoys in the water.

“An individual claiming to be speaking on behalf of the ratepayers approached one of the RC boaters aggressively,” he said. “This individual refused to stand down. Again, in an effort to do the right thing, I had to call the RCMP to attend and diffuse the situation. With regards to our toy boats, they are all electric-powered and measure about 30 inches in length. I have never at any time run gas-powered boats on Cranberry Lake.”

Enns pointed out that gas-powered boats haven’t been used on the lake in a long time, at least during the six years he’s lived in Powell River. “This was false information that was presented to the committee as well,” he said. “Just so everybody is aware, our ‘permission,’ as stated, to run our electric boats comes from a search conducted by the RCMP.”

Enns said he spoke at length on several different occasions to conservation officers to further research any and all bylaws that would affect such a hobby. None were in effect. “Actually,” Enns said, “there were numerous occasions there were unannounced visits by conservation officers who showed up to observe what we were doing. There was no problem as far as conservation officers were concerned.”

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