The Village of Cumberland is faced with the job of replacing the boat launch docks at Comox Lake.
Already on the agenda are safety improvements. Council has a $169,000 grant from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program to use for work on the boat launch.
At the April 26 committee of the whole meeting, members of council considered three options on how to remake the boat launch area. One option is to redo the site with two docks as a way to handle an expected increase in area population and subsequent lake usage with a focus on motor boats. At the other end, the site could provide a space solely for hand-launched watercraft such as paddleboards or canoes, as well as more green space. The third option falls somewhere in between, with space set aside for a dock, but also more space for canoes and other hand-launched vehicles.
Manager of parks and recreation Kevin McPhedran and Tim O’Brien from Outlook Engineering and Landscape Architecture presented a preliminary report to council to get an idea of which direction they want to pursue.
The time frame for the plan is lake use over the next few decades. Over that time, it is anticipated the Comox Valley could grow to the size of Nanaimo.
“We’ve adopted 30 years as a suitable time frame for thinking about municipal infrastructure,” O’Brien said.
The growth poses some challenges especially for bigger motorized watercrafts and their trailers. At the same time, council members expect to see more hand-launched crafts for recreation on the lake.
Still, the sense was they will need at least one dock for a police or fire powerboat to be able to launch at the lake.
The three options come with different requirements, such as extra land for launching or parking.
“There simply isn’t enough real estate in the park available,” McPhedran said.
He also spoke about jurisdictional challenges such as parks in the regional district system, not within Cumberland, or enforcement of parking along the road, which is beyond the village’s authority.
One solution for parking and traffic issues could be an online registration system.
“Online booking could help a lot,” O’Brien said. “It would be a little bit like golf tee-off times.”
Other options to alleviate space problems are imposing tiered fees for larger boats or adding web cameras to allow visitors to see in advance how busy the site is.
One suggestion was for a launch option on the Courtenay side of the lake. For now, council’s task was to discuss the options and provide a sense of the direction they would like.
With talk of a broader regional park service for the Comox Valley, members of council suggested they needed to invite more people to the discussion on the future of the park and the boat launch.
“The broader region needs to be part of this planning process,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said. “I don’t think that we have all the players at the table and all the information we need.”