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Resident wants government to back boat-launch facility

Francois Lake dock would help support tourism: Mark Martin
A government-run dock on Francois Lake would help promote tourism in an area well-known for its boating opportunities, according to area resident Mark Martin. (Lakes District News file photo)

Francois Lake needs docking facilities to support tourism and recreation in the district, according to area resident Mark Martin. And he wants government support in establishing the envisioned boat launch.

“If we’re promoting tourism, we should have a proper launching facility into Francois Lake, and there’s none available at this time,” he said.

Martin, who lives on Tchesinkut Lake, said he wants to install a dock at the Northside ferry terminal. That location currently has a concrete ramp for lowering boats into the water, but no dock for getting on board.

WaterBridge, the firm that operates the Francois Lake ferry — and leases the terminal from the provincial government — has expressed support for the idea, and has even agreed to pull the dock out of the water in winter when the ice sets in.

“We’ll assist in any way we can,” said Ron Van Tine, marine manager at WaterBridge.

Van Tine floated the idea of a dock to the provincial ministry of transportation last summer. He said the province indicated that it would consider issuing a permit, but that a private society would have to be involved to cover insurance.

“It boils down to having one of these societies or clubs carrying the liability,” he said.

Martin thinks the government should take on that responsibility.

“We feel that it should be a government-run facility,” he said. “Thousands and thousands of people come through here for tourism every year, and they have no boat-launching facilities.”

Martin told the Lakes District News that there’s widespread support for the project among area residents and that they could easily raise the estimated $15-16,000 in expenses for building a dock.

And he said that although he was unsure about the cost of insurance, private fundraising could likely cover that expense. But he said it’s unreasonable for the burden of operating a private society to fall on residents.

“We’re willing to provide the funding and the labour to build a facility to help promote tourism and to provide a safe access for a boat launch,” he said.

He added that the Tweedsmuir Park Rod and Gun Club is considering putting it under their liability insurance but that “so far no other societies have stepped up.”

Boaters currently have to travel to the western end of Francois Lake to use a dock at the Noralee Resort, he said.

That’s located roughly 50 km west of the ferry landing, along a stretch of Colleymount Road that he said is mostly gravel.

Martin, a heavy-duty mechanic and avid fisherman, said that boarding his 24-foot Bayliner at the Northside terminal ramp is impractical without a dock.

When he backs the boat into the water, its ladder — located on the stern — is facing the lake. That makes it inaccessible, except by walking along some slippery logs. The bow is too high for him to haul himself aboard, he said.

That means he would need someone to back up the trailer into the water with him already aboard.

This kind of improvising doesn’t make sense in a region well-known for its lakes and recreational boating opportunities, he said. “People are out there in hip waders trying to launch their boats,” said Martin.