MLA Report: The Koocanusa boat launch

In my ten years as MLA for Kootenay East, I’ve helped deliver solutions for gaps in our quality of life here. We needed a renewed hospital and I was able to find $50 million (and I am not done yet – we need a new ICU in the worst way).

The College of the Rockies needed new trades and instructional facilities and a new entrance. I found $22 million and Jim Abbott partnered in with another $8 million.

Steamboat Hill needed fixing. It took me a few years, but I got it fixed. Ditto the highway through Cranbrook, the Elk Valley bridges and passing lanes on highway 3.

The City spray irrigation project, Moir Park and Spirit Square in Cranbrook. Water and sewer infrastructure in Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford. With a lot of elbow grease, I found millions to fund these important government projects.

But every once in a while an idea for a project comes along that has nothing to do with government. The idea comes directly from you, my constituents, and it reflects a real need that will enhance the quality of life here. I’ve been working on a project like that for the past two years.

In July, 2009, Ray Kelly of the Koocanusa Boaters Association told me that launching a boat at Koocanusa in the summer has become a real pain. We don’t mind sharing our beautiful region with our friends from Alberta but the high traffic has made launching a boat at Koocanusa a blood sport. People are waiting hours just to get their boat into the water. After working hard all week, tax paying East Kootenay folks want to get on the water and relax, not wait in line.

So I pulled together a group of interested people, including Sparwood Mayor Dave Wilks, RDEK Directors Heath Slee, Mike Sosnowski, Rob Gay, Rick Allen of the CBT, Diane Tammen of BC Hydro and representatives of some provincial ministries.

I know there is no money in the provincial treasury these days, so when we learned a properly constructed double wide concrete boat launch with a fenced, gravel parking lot and washrooms, costs upwards of $1.6 million, I had to take a breath. But that’s what they cost!

Over the past several months, I’ve searched for partners who will bring some money and expertise to the table so that we can provide a valuable new boat launch to those who love to use the Koocanusa Reservoir. I’m hopeful it will come together and that we will get this important project done and get it done with no provincial tax dollars.

So now it’s up to me to pull this community project together. Stay tuned and by all means if you have ideas for funding this project, please let me know.

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