THE 'PURGATORY ROCK' in the middle of the Spider Lake boat launch.

Recreational gem tarnished by obstructive boulder

Impediment on boat ramp should be removed with all due haste

Over the past couple of decades I have had an intimate relationship with Spider Lake, a many-faceted, medium-sized body of water just off the road to Horn Lake.

My primary interest is fly fishing, but that is just the beginning. I also enjoy bird watching and get much pleasure from sharing the lake with fellow anglers and other recreational outdoor people such as kayakers and canoeists.

In the provincial 2011-13 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis there is the following specific regulation that applies to Spider Lake – “No Power Boats.”

In all the years I have fished the lake I have yet to see a boat powered by an outboard motor on the lake. I have on a few occasions seen a boat powered by a electric motor and when the rule is pointed out to the boater they invariably change to rowing, paddling or go off the lake – with one exception who seems to own a cottage on the lake and they are frequently shamed into using oars.

Further to the “No Power Boats” rule, I have yet to hear a complaint from an angler about the condition that they must navigate under their own power – be it oars, paddles or flippers.

The one complaint I have heard over the years is the dangerous boat launching situation in the park where most anglers launch their boats. We were forced to park our vehicles just on the edge of the traffic lane on the road and put our boats into the water on a seriously hazardous, sloping launch ramp that was a disgrace to the park.

Over the years groups of anglers have tried to fix the sad situation but it was never satisfactory. As a side comment, it is a real tribute to the driving skill of the truck drivers from the quarry who carefully threaded their way through the congestion from boaters trying to get their boat into or out of the lake that we have never had a serious accident that I am aware of.

All of this changed about a month ago when the ministry of the environment came up with some money from the Habitat Conservation Fund (HCF) to improve the situation. What was planned was a proper sloping ramp into the little bay where we usually launch our boats. It would be designed so that we had a minimum effect on the parking, road traffic and as little damage as possible to Spider Lake Regional Park.

The bulk of the funding was coming from the HCF which was carrying out a series of upgrades to recreational ramps on several lakes on the south island. Fly fishing clubs, fish and game clubs and municipalities were also helping with funding and work where appropriate. It was a conscious effort by the provincial government to enhance recreational fishing opportunities in urban and regional freshwater lakes on Vancouver Island.

Pictured with this column is the ramp sloping into the little bay just off the road. Every person I have talked to is thrilled with the quality and location of the ramp, but shocked to see there is a large boulder in the middle of the ramp, just above the water line where you would normally slide your boat into the water.

I have a personal friend who has severe arthritis and in spite of major challenges he has ingeniously rigged a system of pulleys assisted with a small electric motor to load and offload his boat into the lake.

He was devastated when he went down to try the new ramp and saw the big boulder in the middle of the ramp effectively shutting him off from access to the lake. If the intent of this boulder is to inject a purgatory set of mental and physical barriers to the seniors and other challenged users of the ramp in their legitimate use of the ramp, I respectfully suggest is misdirected and the boulder must be removed.

Spider Lake is a precious recreational lake bordered with private homes and a significant regional park. We live in an age when we are trying to reduce our societal carbon footprints throughout the province and the “No Power Boat” regulation makes a tiny contribution to this important goal in coming to grips with climate change.

Please remove the boulder.

Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.

 

 

 

 

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