Taghum-Blewett boat launch plans are dead in the water

Residents launched boats from this site, owned by Teck Metals Ltd., for years until the company closed it in 2014. (Bill Metcalfe photo)Residents launched boats from this site, owned by Teck Metals Ltd., for years until the company closed it in 2014. (Bill Metcalfe photo)
The shoreline on the south end of the old Taghum bridge was favoured by many residents as a boat launch site. (Bill Metcalfe photo)The shoreline on the south end of the old Taghum bridge was favoured by many residents as a boat launch site. (Bill Metcalfe photo)

There will be no boat launch on the Kootenay River in the Taghum-Blewett area, despite years of discussion and planning.

The reason? Teck Metals Ltd., the owner of the only feasible sites, has said no.

This was made official at this month’s meeting of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK).

“I’m really disappointed,” said RDCK Area E representative Ramona Faust. “We did a study with a very competent engineering firm on possible locations.”

The Taghum Blewett Boat Launch Phase 1 Feasibility Study, released in July 2018, identified three locations that would be feasible from an engineering point of view, all owned by Teck:

• The former Teck boat launch site on Fisherman’s Road, in the tailings area for the former Kenville Mine

Teck told the RDCK in a letter that because of “changing global tailings standards and internal Teck standards” the contaminated site was not suitable.

Teck told the Star in an email that it is managing this contaminated land and working on a remediation plan, but did not say when the remediation will be started or completed.

This site was regularly used by the public until 2014 when Teck closed it, citing potential danger from contaminated soil. In 2015, a citizen petition to the RDCK demanding a public launch site sparked several years of meetings and the feasibility study.

• The southeast abutment of the old Taghum Bridge

Teck said this is a significant archeological site but the company is not able to disclose details. This would have to be obtained by the B.C. Archaeological Branch, which the Star has contacted with no response so far.

• The gravel bar at Fisherman’s point

“The area is considered high value sensitive riparian ecosystem and is not suitable for a boat launch,” Teck said.

A fourth site, not owned by Teck, described in RDCK materials as the northwest abutment of the old Taghum Bridge, “was identified through public consultation but was discounted due to private land access, steep terrain, proximity to the CPR tracks, limitations to potential parking/staging areas, and the RDCK’s understanding that there is little possibility of reaching a land agreement with the owners.”

Taghum Beach Park was not considered to be a potential site.

During the public consultation part of the feasibility study, Nelson resident Trevor Jenkinson was an active advocate for a boat launch.

Now he says he’s “extremely disappointed.”

Asked where people are launching boats now, he said, “People are just not launching boats, except for a couple of not-quite-legal spots. Otherwise you have to go in at Lakeside and go through Grohman Narrows, and that can do you some damage if you don’t know how to navigate Grohman. It is tricky.”