The District of Houston is once again seeking funding to complete By-Mac Park’s boat launch project after receiving several complaints from park users and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
Earlier this year Houston council decided to cancel the proposed project after a grant application was unsuccessful.
Since then, ministry staff have been working with the district to identify funding solutions.
The park’s boat launch is currently unusable, with silt buildup rendering it inaccessible to vehicle use.
Over the past few months several park users have been seen accessing the river through “non-official” launch areas, according to the district. This resulted in vehicles driving directly into the river and being partially submerged.
The project would see the existing boat launch decommissioned and replaced with a new boat launch that would be less susceptible to silt buildup.
The conceptual plan presented to council currently shows the boat launch being moved downstream and angled to allow the natural watercourse to aid in silt removal, along with new parking space which would be separate from the campground.
The project’s estimated cost – which includes a hydrological survey, engineering, construction, signage and environmental monitoring – is $261,000.
To date, a total of five possible funding sources have been identified. One of these sources, the Rural Dividend Special Circumstances Fund, can be accessed due to the impacts to forestry operations as a result of wildfires in the Morice Timber Supply Area (TSA). Preliminary analysis of the 2018 fires indicates that about three per cent of green merchantable timber in the Morice TSA were impacted.
According to district staff, this funding stream has less restrictions than other grants.
Last week council approved the applications to the various funding sources and committed $25,000 to the project. However, the project will not proceed without 90 per cent grant funding.
In a report to council, Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s chief administrative officer, says there’s a “strong probability” that the project could be funded through 100 per cent grant funding.
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. has expressed an interest in supporting this project through a financial contribution along with in-kind support by providing expertise in completing similar projects.
As a main point of access to the Morice River, By-Mac Park has drawn users from outside of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako and supported local businesses through increased tourism revenues.