Boat launch waiting on land approval

Access to the Columbia River has been a desire of the community for a long time, and plans to install a boat launch in Nicholson are still in the works.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District began planning the boat launch in Nicholson after the Area A parks plan identified that public access to the river was a high priority in 2007.

The CSRD then had to obtain a statutory right of way in cooperation with a property owner in Nicholson to establish the location of the future boat launch. Since then, the location plans were changed, and the CSRD is now waiting for Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) approval of the new site.

The ALC mandates land uses for agricultural purposes, and the land required by the CSRD must be approved for non-farm use on the property.

“The subject property was already approved by the ALC for park use, however the new location for the launch fell just outside of the previously approved area, which prompted the need for a new application to the ALC,” explained CSRD community services team leader Ryan Nitchie.

Originally, the CSRD had hoped the project could be completed this year, but with the new application still outstanding, the timeline could be altered.

“We are optimistic and hopeful to proceed in 2018, however, timing will depend on when we receive approvals for land use and permits,” Nitchie said.

The preliminary planning, design, and engineering is all complete, but the finalization of the application approval will be required before work can begin.

“Once that happens, we will have a meeting in Nicholson regarding the design,” said Area A director Karen Cathcart.

Earlier this year, planning consultants estimated the project would cost around $543,000, plus contingency. The 2018 Electoral Area A parks budget allocated $98,000 toward the construction of the boat launch, and the balance of the project would be funded using the community works funds and the Columbia Basin Trust recreation infrastructure grant funds.

“Once a favourable response is received from the ALC, we will take the next steps,” Nitchie said.

Following the ALC approval, the CSRD will then work on the final design, and approval from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations to work in and around the river.

“The CSRD is prepared to tender the project for construction within the allowable construction window,” Nitchie said.

The boat launch in Nicholson will provide people the opportunity to use a proper launch site for their boats into the Columbia River, and will open up recreation opportunities for boats with 20 horsepower or less. The boat launch will be surrounded by a park with amenities like a vault toilet, picnic tables, garbage and recycling bins, gates and fences, and a gravel access road and parking area.

The site will be available for public access, allowing anyone to put their watercraft into the river, so long as it does not exceed the horsepower limits. People will be able to enjoy use of the surrounding park whether or not they are launching boats into the Columbia River.

If construction begins soon enough, the launch site could be completed this year, and the public could have access to the area right away after its completion.

The proposed site for the new boat launch is across the Canyon Creek Road bridge.

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