The District of Clearwater received a total of 84 responses from the public regarding the Dutch Lake boat launch. The launch has been a topic of much discussion since a recommendation to change its designation was brought to council during their regular meeting on Aug. 18.
Input from a survey posted to the DOC website, from Nov. 23 to 26, as well as letters submitted, dated from Nov. 9 to Nov. 17, were used to compile data to help councillors make a decision about the future of the boat launch.
Five scenarios were presented on the survey: motorized boats only; hand launch boats only, with swimming permitted; hand launch and motorized boats only, no swimming permitted; dogs permitted; and dogs not permitted. The DOC recieved 70 surveys and 14 written submissions.
“They gave solutions and I did appreciate that,” Councillor Lynne Frizzle said about the submissions. “They didn’t just come with their negative comments or their positive comments, they came with solutions.”
The concerns surrounding the boat launch started over the summer as the DOC had received as many as two calls per day from Clearwater residents, according to a staff report from Aug. 18. Complaints included swimming at the launch, driveways blocked by vehicles, garbage and litter, dogs running free, dog and human waste, noise and smoking and drinking.
Because of the repeated complaints, as well as community persistence about the issue, the DOC had to look into the boat launch in a legal sense, said Mayor Merlin Blackwell. From there, legal concerns such as refitting the dock back into place, as well as the liability issues of having both motorized boats and swimming, will need to be addressed.
The District has already submitted an application for a permit to fix the mooring for the boat launch dock.
Legal requirements aside, the community seems quite torn over how the boat launch should function moving forward, especially when it comes to allowing swimming at the launch, as the votes for “hand launch boats only, swimming permitted” and “hand launch and motorized boats only, no swimming” were 43 and 33, respectively.
Some suggested the DOC find another insurance broker and ask for a second opinion, while others recommended the area be separated in two, one for swimming and one for boats. Many questioned how much of this would be enforced, but a few agreed that more enforcement was needed.
Now, council will take the submissions and take them into consideration when making other project choices, some of which, they say, may help to alleviate some the boat launch problems. But, it’s something that cannot sit on the backburner any longer.
“What we have here is a decision that will not make everybody happy,” said Blackwell. “We’ve taken care of the main point…the rest of the decision, I think, needs to be along the conversation of dog beaches, motorized/non-motorized access and how we can solve these problems through other projects and solutions.”
The recommendation was passed by council, and the information acquired by the DOC will be considered during the 2021-25 budget process.
Those who would like to read the submissions and summary from the surveys can access them through the DOC website . Similarly, those who wish to provide input can contact the DOC office at 250-674-2257 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.