Minden Hills council, at its Aug. 31 meeting, approved spending up to $5,000 to assist the Bob Lake Association fund a professional design for its proposed boat launch on Claude Brown Road. The money would also help offset legal consultation costs.
The association’s chair, Laurent Joncas, made a request in writing for the township to fund the entire amount, estimated at $10,000.
Coun. Bob Carter suggested the compromise in a show of “good will” to move the file to the next level. He said it was a difficult situation.
“The location that they have chosen has not only some technical difficulties but also has some difficulties concerning the people who live in that immediate area. I’m a bit concerned that this group does not represent the majority of people on Bob Lake and they certainly do not have agreement from the neighbours who would be most affected by this situation,” Carter said. He added the legal opinion has to do with people launching boats crossing private land.
Coun. Jean Neville noted the township already spent $10,000 to assist stranded boats off of the lake when the historic launch was closed and only 10 boats were removed.
She said she wasn’t in support of the municipality spending money on a future launch “to serve a few boaters on Bob Lake.” She said boats are a luxury and the money could go towards a more deserving project. However, she was okay with the $5,000 spend for now.
Deputy mayor Lisa Schell said council had to consider people living on Claude Brown Road who will be affected to appease the people on Bob Lake.
Coun. Pam Sayne supported the full spend.
She said boaters had used the former launch for generations when it was assumed by all, including the township, that it was on municipal land. It was not until a real estate transaction in 2015-16 that it was discovered the launch was on private land.
Sayne said the municipality had “dropped the ball” and the association had been doing the heavy lifting ever since.
“They’ve emptied their coffers in trying to get this report, hiring consultants,” she said.
She added the location they are proposing is the only feasible site and said access would also be for the OPP and fire department. She said the association had letters of support from anglers and local businesses as well.
“We owe this to the community to follow through with it.”
In reference to Neville’s comment about boats being a luxury item, Sayne said the township supports snowmobiles for tourism and the economy, which is the same thing.
However, a majority of council voted for the $5,000 spend.
Mayor Brent Devolin said, “A file that’s been on my desk for five years. I would like to know whether it’s doable or not. I’m willing to split the cost with them to take it to the next level.”