Sunday, June 1, 2008

Marine Task Force Report

Saturday the North Saanich Municipal councils Marine Task Force held an open house and presented their initial findings and suggestions to the public.

Of interest to the kayak community was an inventory of launch sites along the north Saanich peninsula. Many of these sites are well known in the local kayak community there were a few new ones and a few others not listed.

One thing all the sites have in common is poor parking facilities. The Task Force has come up with some innovative solutions. Over night and multiple day parking is almost impossible in some areas.

One solution to the parking issue was to install bike racks at the launch sites. It was reasoned kayakers could bike to specific sites where dry land storage facilites for kayaks would be created. Here they'd pull out their boats and paddle away.

Simple but not very likely. Not many of us want to bike with a $500 carbon fiber paddle balanced on the handle bars. And unless the storage facilities were a lot more sophisticated then implied - where would you leave your kit.

I can't see too many people riding down the road in a wet suit or a dry suit. I suspect this suggestion reveals more about the misunderstanding of our sport.

The view that people can go out on the ocean in a t-shirt and shorts is still far to prevalent.

North Saanich owns a parcel of shore front on Tsehum bay and it was suggested one of these proposed kayak storage sites could be built inside the bay.

I pointed out the proximity of 11 marine harbours in the bay might lead to some conflicts between power boaters and the speed bump crowd. Many of you have heard me rail on about the dangers of crossing Tsehum Bay on a late sunny Saturday or Sunday. Power boaters returning from a day of gin swilling at Sidney Spit, with the setting sun glaring in their eyes, high speed, booze, and kayakers strung out across the entrance to the bay makes this a very dangerous place for kayakers.

Putting a kayak specific storage space in the bay would make a bad situation worse in my view.

However,the Task Force were also receptive to suggestions from the public.

Doug Linton from the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club suggested having a fresh water supply at specific launch sites would be a boon as it would allow kayakers to wash kit and boats.

Washrooms and toilets were also sited as a needed improvement at the public launch locations. Residents are growing tired of watching kayakers releave themselves when launching and landing.

I don't see what the problem is here. Until the area gets true waste disposal facilities it's all going back into the ocean anyway I just wish more property owners would feel as strongly about picking up after their dogs. Island View beach is disgusting because of this.

Inventorying kayak launch sites is likely a good idea. Improving the sites has merit. But who pays for the improvements and who pays to maintain them is uncertain. It's not fair to ask the residents of North Saanich to bare these costs for the benefits of kayakers from across the region. User fees would be impossible to collect. Billing the Capital Regional District would fly like a cat.

Maybe the best thing to do is nothing.

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