The Halifax Area Model Yacht Club is without a location to hold its national championships because of a weed infestation at Dartmouth’s Sullivan’s Pond.
The Halifax Area Model Yacht Club is one of Canada’s premier model sailing clubs, with dozens of members, who sail radio control sailboats locally and internationally.
“It’s just like racing full size boats but a lot cheaper, and if you get wet and cold, you pick up your boat and go home, which is a plus” says Gary Bugden, the commodore of the group.
He says Sullivan’s Pond is one of the club’s favourite spots to race.
“This is a lovely pond to sail in, and we’d really like to hold a national championship here,” Bugden tells Global News.
But Budgen says a rampant problem with overgrown weeds is stopping the group from being able to hold any kind of event there.
“About the time that you would want to hold a championship, the weeds start to grow up and the water level becomes unpredictable” Bugen explains.
“The boats are very susceptible to getting tangled in weeds, and of course if your concentrating on racing and all of a sudden you hook into a big weed, basically these little boats just stop. It’s very frustrating and sometimes there’s not even enough water here to float them”
Bugden says it’s been a chronic problem at Sullivan’s Pond for years – but it was only media reports about the weedy conditions that alerted city officials to the depth of the problem.
“The city became aware of a weed problem when Global TV approached the municipality to speak about the issue” says Cameron Deacoff, an Environmental Protection Officer with the Halifax Regional Municipality.
The problems aren’t unique to Sullivan’s Pond.
Swimmers and Paddlers Upstream at Lake Banook started having issues with weeds five years ago, after the water level in the lake was dropped to accommodate the installation of a sewer pipe.
“Weed growth was noticed in that lake in 2009, and it became even more problematic the following year,” Deacoff tells Global News.
Bugden says what happens upstream impacts activities at Sullivan’s pond.
“They control the water a little bit upstream here and hold it back to keep the level in the lakes higher up for the paddlers and so on. But generally that means we have no water down here.”
Deacoff says the water flow between the two bodies of waters is controlled by a lock structure at Lake Banook. It is managed by the Shubenacadie Canal Commission, not by the municipality.
“Lake level management is something that we do not take lightly because of course doing things for one user group can have significant and adverse impacts on other user groups, so we can’t do them unilaterally,” says Deacoff.
The Halifax Area Model Yacht Club is hoping the city can make some adjustments and help fix the problems that plague Sullivan’s Pond.
In the meantime, the group has decided to move their activities away from the city to Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia.
“We will have to move our races now for the next couple of months because there’s simply not enough water and too many weeds, and you can’t race boats when its determined whether or not you have bad luck and catch a weed, I mean that’s not really a sport,” says Bugden, while untangling weeds from the rudder of his model boat.
There is concern among many in the group that moving their sailing activities will prompt people to lose interest in the sport.
“The spectator aspect will go away, and you know we’re a little concerned about participation in our club activities. It’s a long way to Lunenburg. A much bigger drive, a longer drive, a bigger commitment.”