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Squamish plans future boat launch, fixes to current launch uncertain

District of Squamish moving ahead with planning a future boat launch with the top spot identified at Darrell Bay.
Darrell Bay is a favourited both by advocates and the municipality as a good spot for a future boat launch.

The District of Squamish is planning a future boat launch facility with the top spot identified as Darrell Bay, but short-term fixes to the current boat launch on private land were left undetermined.

At the May 7 special business meeting, Squamish council unanimously endorsed the final marine access review, which has been years in the making. With the endorsement, council approved a slew of recommendations from staff—including the ongoing planning of a future boat launch that can manage both motorized and non-motorized watercraft. 

“Today, we’ve achieved a real milestone with this report,” said Coun. Eric Andersen. “Lots of pieces still to come but a big piece resolved today.”

Perhaps the biggest piece is that the District will now look to plan a boat launch facility with the top spot being at Darrell Bay. The second potential property is privately owned on the west side of Mamquam Blind Channel at Blocks 45 and 46, which is near the current boat launch downtown. The final potential spot is at Site B on the east side of Mamquam Blind Channel owned by the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation).

The approved staff recommendation says the District will “investigate boat launch and barge ramp feasibility and future integration in identified sites” over the next one to three years.

“I'm happy that through the process Darrell Bay has been confirmed as the lead candidate location for a future boat launch,” said Coun. John French. 

“I look forward to ongoing co-operation and co-ordination with Squamish Lillooet Regional District, Squamish Nation, northern First Nations, our business community and resident boaters, who have been constructive with their input.”

While moving ahead with that planning was certainly seen as a positive step ahead by those on council, some also shared worries about the state of the current privately owned boat launch and resident water access while they plan a new facility.

“I have some concern that we're missing this interim need that is going to become more and more poignant for a local boat launch,” said Coun. Andrew Hamilton.

“I don't see a simple solution. I don't see it being a responsible expenditure of public funding to invest in significant infrastructure on private land. And so I see a challenge here that I would encourage the community, that are interested in finding solutions, that will help us move this forward.”

“I, too, am really wrestling with what does it mean in the interim?” said Coun. Jenna Stoner, adding she was also wrestling with the role of local government with boat launch facilities.

She questioned whether there were ways the District could essentially “move out of the way.”

“While I hear that there's a real need, I also see a lot of opportunity for folks to come up with solutions outside of the municipal government structure.”

The deterioration of the downtown boat launch has been noted for years. Lately, local advocate Rich Duncan has been frustrated with increased industrial usage, which he said has made matters worse. In an interview with The Squamish Chief, Duncan said a launch at Darrell Bay was the best solution going ahead.

Read the full report on marine access on council’s May 7 special business meeting agenda.


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