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qathet region, Tla'amin governments discuss Gibsons Beach boat launch

Cooperative effort one scenario for improving facility
PROJECT OUTLINED: Improvements and upgrades to the Gibsons Beach boat launch was discussed between representatives of qathet Regional District, Tla’amin Nation and City of Powell River at a joint meeting of the three local governments.

Upgrading Gibsons Beach boat launch was a topic of discussion at the community-to-community-to-community (C3) meeting on October 13.

Gibsons Beach was an agenda item in the meeting between elected officials and senior staff members from qathet Regional District (qRD), Tla’amin Nation and City of Powell River. Regional district chief administrative officer Al Radke said it might be an idea to test the appetite of doing something collaboratively or cooperatively among the three governments at the site.

“The biggest thing for the regional district is knowing if there is any appetite; we need a whole lot more advance notice because of the complexity of how our finances run regarding services,” said Radke. “It’s quite complicated and complex and we can’t get into all of those details here but I thought we might have an opportunity to assess what the appetite is.”

Tla’amin executive council member Dillon Johnson said the nation has an interest in the Gibsons Beach land because it owns all of the land around it and believes it can operate and maintain the facility, the park, the boat launch, et cetera.

“Obviously, there are more details to be sorted out with respect to that potential transfer,” said Johnson. “With respect to this proposal, we all have an interest in safe, accessible and useful infrastructure like a boat launch. I think residents from each of our respective boundaries would use an upgraded boat launch at Gibsons Beach. A lot of our people use that one and it is treacherous to say the least.

“I think the proposal here, should we collaborate, is to see what kind of grant funding we can access to upgrade the launch. It’s safe to say the three groups working together is a pretty compelling argument to access grant funding. In the short-term, are we willing to collaborate together to see what funding we can shake loose? The rest of the details we’ll have to sort out over the coming months.”

Johnson said he wants to see a safe and accessible launch, knowing it will be in the range of $3 million-plus to create an extended, wider launch with docks and a breakwater.

“It’s not going to be cheap, so the budget implications are big, assuming we can’t get a really big chunk of it funded,” he added.

qRD and C3 meeting chair Patrick Brabazon said the regional district’s financial arrangements are the most complicated of all. He said he suspected Lasqueti and Texada islands probably have a minimal interest in the Gibsons Beach boat launch, and other electoral districts have a greater interest.

“We at the regional board have to divvy up all of the interests,” said Brabazon. “The idea of cooperating and seeing if we can get some grants out of senior governments is an excellent idea.”

Mayor suggests approaching Rotary

Powell River mayor Dave Formosa said the city recently received a delegation report from Don McLeod at a committee of the whole meeting regarding the Gibsons Beach boat launch and didn’t think that a $3 million launch was being discussed.

“Having said that, my thoughts were that Don McLeod was quite involved with Rotary and maybe this could be a Rotary project, like they have done throughout the community,” added Formosa. “That might be something you want to push back to Mr. McLeod.

“We did a freestanding boat launch at Mowat Bay [on Powell Lake] and it’s a good concrete pad, with floats attached to the side. My guess is this was something in the $150,000 range. We could consider asking Mr. McLeod. I’m not saying we are all off the hook, but it could be in addition to any funding we could come up with from the three communities.”

Electoral Area C director Clay Brander asked if this is something that might fall within the scope of Powell River Community Forest.

Formosa said this would be a possible funding source to amalgamate with other funding.

Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said the whole issue of whether the regional district is involved is going to lead to a discussion about the have and have-nots in terms of boat launches.

“There is a dock on Texada Island that is operated by the regional district as part of Shelter Point Regional Park,” said McCormick. “You have to have a seven-and-a-half foot to eight-foot tide and no wind to be able to launch and dock at the end of your time on the water. Our conditions are far worse that the description of Gibsons Beach, so I know I would be hard pressed to go back to Texada people and say we want you to pay more taxes to support this other boat launch that isn’t part of the regional district, when it’s actually in better shape than the one that is in our area and part of the regional district.

“This is going to open up a much broader discussion about boat launches, and do we even want to go there? I’m not convinced we do.”

City councillor George Doubt said this is a complex issue. He said he understands Tla’amin would like to take over ownership or custody of the land and that’s another question.

“There’s a lot of future possibilities there and I think we need to go step-by-step,” said Doubt.

Tla’amin executive councillor Erik Blaney said he is an avid fisherman and a person who is on the water quite a bit. He said the Texada boat launch is way better than the Gibsons Beach boat ramp.

“I think the Rotary discussion is a good one and they have approached me and discussed any projects with the Tla’amin Nation that we’d like to prioritize in partnership; it would be an excellent and welcomed discussion” said Blaney. “However, if the city does want to proceed with the renovations of that boat ramp, we should probably look at getting a referral into the nation so we can start the due diligence around the archaeology.”

Blaney said that area is an old village site and Gibsons Beach has significant archaeological remains there.

“The easiest thing to do would be to transfer it back to the Tla’amin Nation,” added Blaney, “and let us get it done.”