New rules are coming to the Coopers Green boat launch following a summer of intense debate about how the free, public access ramp is used and by whom.
Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors approved recommendations for staff to “work with marine transportation service providers to define limited days/hours of service for goods/service movement at the boat launch,” during a Nov. 12 planning committee meeting.
No details were provided about how the hours would be established but the report suggested they would be “adhered to voluntarily.”
Staff have also been directed to ensure the load limit for the boat launch is “clearly communicated” and seek provincial approval for an updated management plan, which would include the hours of allowable operation. The load limit is 11,365 kilograms.
Staff also suggested that the SCRD work with the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization (SCREDO) on a “forward-looking marine facilities study.” Directors approved that resolution also.
“It appears as though a new or upgraded facility or facilities is required somewhere on the Coast,” said planning general manager Ian Hall, since there is demand for but no existing ramp that can accommodate heavy marine transportation.
The study would look at what kind of facility, where and how it would be sustainably operated. It could also cover another area with recreational and commercial use conflicts – water access at McNair Creek Park near Port Mellon.
“A potential project related to marine facilities presents the opportunity to grow SCRD’s working relationship with SCREDO,” said the staff report, adding that such an economically focused study “is an area where SCREDO’s expertise and mandate would be very appropriately deployed.” An option for grants might also be possible this way, said staff.
A summary of issues related to the ramp was provided with the report, including that the Coast lacks a ramp to transport goods to Merry and Thormanby islands that exceed the load limit of the Coopers Green launch, and that “no comprehensive look at the ‘ecosystem’ of Sunshine Coast facilities has been undertaken.”
A conflict between commercial and recreational users and nearby residents flared last summer, after a letter was submitted to the board urging the SCRD to take “immediate action” to stop the commercial use of the ramp.
The ramp is considered essential for recreational and commercial users, and is relied on by island residents to transfer goods and services.
Pratt acknowledged the “crucial need” for a facility and the ongoing discussion and said she was “happy” to move ahead with the recommendations.
Directors still have to adopt the resolutions at an upcoming board meeting.