Seven years after a public boat launch was closed on Bob Lake in Minden Hills, Bob Lake Association (BLA) members Robert Roszell and Dave Roberts made yet another plea to council Jan. 12.

Their pitch is to lease a township-owned unopened road allowance on Claude Brown Road to build a launch at no cost to taxpayers.

Roszell said long-standing members of their association had been unable to launch their boats since 2016, unless they’ve built private launches at their own homes and cottages.

“We hope with this delegation we can move forward to re-establish a Bob Lake community boat launch,” he added.

In an overview, Roszell said, “the Bob Lake Association will pay for all construction, continued maintenance, and insurance.” He said they had used the township’s latest survey and worked with EcoVue Consulting Services Ltd. and Tatham Engineering on design and planning. He noted they had shared the cost of a legal opinion with the township.

He said it would be a simple concrete slab with no parking. He further added it would be on township property, in the area of an old launch site. He said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have indicated there will be no impact on fish spawning beds.

Roberts added it will be better for the lake’s shoreline to stop people putting in private launches. He said it would also provide access to the lake for emergency services, such as OPP, fire, and medical; the MNRF, Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association, as well as island inspections for septics and building inspections.

Coun. Tammy McKelvey said closing off an original shoreline road allowance to water in this way contravenes planning policy. Another concern is erosion and the road ending up in the lake, she said. McKelvey further asked how the association would ensure it did not become a public launch.

“While I really want to see a public boat launch on Bob Lake, I definitely don’t think this location’s ideal,” McKelvey said.

Roberts replied that, in the past, they’d submitted “exhaustive” assessments and, “while it might not be the ideal location, it certainly meets all the criteria.” He reminded McKelvey it was a public boat launch until about the mid-70s. The BLA’s said they have also been assured there’ll be no natural erosion.

Roberts said their first priority was a lease agreement and they would work out details later. However, he suggested they could have a combination locked gate and signage.

Mayor Bob Carter said the issue had been before council for a number of years, and the township has spent a considerable amount of money, time and effort on it. He wanted the delegation received for information with a staff report to follow.

We’ve also received some comments from the public … some are for, and many against, so we have to do all those considerations.”

Roszell followed up by saying they surveyed lake owners in 2021. He said 65 per cent responded, with 99 per cent supporting restoration of a public boat launch. He added only 48 per cent had been able to make arrangements with existing private launches, 36 per cent had sold or dry docked their boats and 16 per cent did not have a boat.

Coun. Pam Sayne said, “this has been going on way too long.” She felt the safety aspect of having emergency services accessing the lake was important. She thought it was the “only reasonable” location.

“I think we need to look at this new approach because some of the opposition was the cost. We have so many boat launches that we need maintenance for. And the BLA, with others in the community, have found ways to get around that situation and not make it a financial burden to the municipality. I think that’s a very important point.”

She’s also concerned that it has become a private lake for those with boat launches as opposed to a public lake.

She concurred with staff looking at the proposal and coming back to council “with hopefully some more information and finally get this thing on the road.”

Roszell said they had the support of 14 local businesses. He further estimated property values had decreased with a loss of $70,000 to $105,000 to the township.