There's a new way for windsports users to access the launching island at the southernmost end of the Squamish Spit.
The Squamish Windsports Society has bought a boat to ferry its members across the newly-created gap in the Spit.
Earlier this year, a conservation effort spearheaded by the Squamish River Watershed Society punched a hole in the Spit to let water and salmon from the Squamish River into the Estuary.
While this development is expected to be a boon for the salmon, the newly-formed gap has prevented recreationalists from driving and walking up to the launching zone, which has been the traditional way to access the area.
There were fears that access to the island would be cut off, but, with a boat to ferry people back and forth from the tip of the Spit, access will remain.
"It's definitely running now," said Sean Millington, the windsports society's president. "With the road being removed, we had to come up with a solution to serve our membership. And the boat was the option that went out after much discussion and debate. And at this point, the plan is to run the boat as needed, so to speak."
When water levels are suitable, and demand is present, the boat is expected to be operational.
But, during the lowest of tides, there will be no boat service, as it will be possible to walk to the newly-formed launching island. Low-tide conditions are also challenging for the vessel to navigate.
However, this new solution is not without its challenges.
Millington estimates that the boat cost somewhere in the ballpark of $40,000, which is a significant expense that has taken from resources the society normally used for other things, such as staffing, maintaining its rescue crafts and its facilities.
"It's pulling income from the future to pay for an expense that's happening today," said Millington. "Normally, we would defer some of this revenue that we hold on the books and spend it over the next few months, as expenses come up."
As a registered non-profit society, the organization can't take out loans or credit, which means it will be relying on memberships, donations and grants to help shore up the added expense imposed by the boat.
However, the organization is doing everything it can to raise money.
"We're applying for tourism grants," said vice president Nikki Layton. "We're trying applying for community gaming grants... there's the Squamish Foundation grants and the Woodfibre community grants and, you know, and any help we can get from the community is going to make a difference in how successful the society is, for sure."
Layton said that membership fees had been bumped this year to $280 per person, up from $180 to help pay the bills.
It's a tough year to raise the costs of membership, Layton acknowledged, given how inflation is wreaking havoc on people's budgets.
She said that with the new registration fees, if the society can hit 75% of last year's membership numbers, it will be able to break even.
Millington said that as of the last time he checked, the society has about 45% of that figure, which, roughly speaking, is over 100 registrations.
"Which means we're more or less on track, revenue-wise, for this time of the year," he said." So it's not time to panic. But, you know, we need things to keep moving."
Millington emphasized that the windsports society is doing everything it can to keep serving the community.
"This is everyone's society," he said. "We're not some overlord sitting here or you know, running this thing and panning out edicts to people. We're doing our best to keep this whole thing afloat for the membership and users of the area. And it's obviously gotten a lot more challenging in the last year with how things have played out, but, at the end of the day, we're trying to do our best for the community."
Go to the Squamish Windsports Society webpage for more information.