Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said the decision to close the city’s only deep water boat launch was a tough one.
“I can understand they are still upset and rightly so,” Basran said. “But at the end of the day we believe that extending this boardwalk and having access for more of our residents to our waterfront is the higher priority.”
The City decommissioned the Queensway deep water boat launch in Kerry Park along the downtown waterfront at the end of February as part of plans to complete the lakeside promenade.
“We believe, at end of day, the greater good and the majority of our residents are better served by this fantastic walkway and its continuation along Kerry Park than the handful of people inconvenienced by the removal of the deep keel boat launch,” Basran said.
The City monitored the usage of the Queensway boat launch with a video camera between June and November of last year. The City said the footage revealed that there were only 30 launches at that facility during the six-month period.
“There are other deep keel boat launches in the Okanagan,” Basran said. “We know too in other sailing communities, the community will get together and they will all co-ordinate their launches and hire a crane and they will have the crane put the boats in the water for them so this isn’t anything new.”
That’s exactly what a dozen sailboat owners did on Saturday. They hired a crane that hoisted their vessels from the trailers and into the lake.
“This is a big inconvenience and this costs a lot of money,” sailboat owner Alan Wright said. “For each of us it is $125 in and it will be $125 out.”
With the loss of the Queensway lake access, the attention is turning to the nearby Water Street boat launch. The Kleowna Yacht club is hoping the City does some maintenance work on the facility which would not only be beneficial to the boating community at large but solve the access problem for deep keel boats as well.
“Ideally we would like to see the concrete extended potentially the original design has series of rocks that have been displaced and that needs to be brought back,” Kelowna Yacht Club board member Kent Hardisty said. “Once that is done, that would provide that access for those boats.”
So far, the City has no plans to do maintenance work to the Water Street boat launch but isn’t ruling it out down the road.
“Council and staff, at least council have not had those conversations so it is too early to say,” Basran said. “The door is not shut by any means but it’s not topic of conversations at this point.”
For now, deep keel boat owners will either have to pay to get their vessels into the water at private marinas or hire a crane to do so.