Town of PR may take over north end boat launch

The map shows which sections of land nearby the north end boat launch in Peace River are owned by the Town or otherwise.

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

The future of the north end boat launch in Peace River was up for debate at council during their governance and priorities meeting March 1 after the Town was asked to take over ownership of the property.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Small Craft Harbours program has asked the Town if they want to take ownership of a property lot at the boat launch.

Lot B at the Peace River boat launch, formerly administered by the federal government and held under Plan 9524106, will be taken over by the Province of Alberta. The Town has been offered Lot A at the launch and asked to decide if they want to take Lot A and take on a disposition for Lot B, which is equivalent to what Town would reference as an operational lease.

A disposition would increase the Towns liability, but Tanya Bell of Community Services says the Town is already “vicariously in this situation currently and would be held liable now if there was an issue.”

Bell says taking over the property will involve minimal changes and costs for the Town.

If the Town were to take over ownership of Lot A but decline the disposition, Alberta Sustainable Resources would likely require the boat launch to be removed and the site reclaimed.

“When I read this report, I have to say the first thing that went through my mind was, is this what councillors thought 20 years ago when the feds said we’ll give you an airport for a dollar?” asks Councillor Johanna Downing.

“Exactly,” says Mayor Tarpey.

“That thought ran through my mind as well,” he adds.

“I don’t think it will be quite as crazy as the airport,” Councillor Schamehorn says.

Downing says the map is not “terribly clear,” but she says the Town is already maintaining the property with grading.

“I don’t think we can avoid this,” Downing says.

“Will it fall on the province? Possibly. Will we still end up caring for it? Likely. If we don’t, we may end up losing the easy side of the river’s access.”

Downing says the boating community is already working hard to take care of local boat launches.

Bell says the arrangements with the Peace River Boating Association are very loose and informal, but the association acts based on their passion for the work.

“They are contributing significantly to the maintenance of those sites. More than we could provide,” Bell says.

The relationship may be formalized in some way going forward.

“I don’t think you want to lose that boat launch,” Councillor Orren Ford says.

“There’s a lot of boaters that live in our community.”

The launch is the only boat launch on the east side of the river.

Ford says the launch is also important for the fire department for launching their rescue boat.

Tarpey also acknowledges boating is a key part of Peace River’s culture.

It’s an industry in this Town,” Tarpey says.

He adds the issue is an Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework item and funding to look after the launch should be found there.

No official motions are made at governance and priorities meetings, so administration was looking for direction rather than a final decision.

While nothing is finalized as of yet, the Town’s direction is to pursue transfer of ownership with one portion to the Town with the intent of maintaining the existing boat launch.

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