By Steve Hubrecht 

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The Athalmer boat launch needs fixing, but won’t get properly patched up for some time yet.

The launch has been deteriorating for years and the situation became so bad that last summer the concrete portion of the boat launch was closed (the unpaved part remained open). The situation will remain the same again this summer.

Part of the reason repairs haven’t been done yet, and won’t be any time soon, is that it’s unclear exactly who has jurisdiction over the concrete part of the launch.

Many local residents assume that the launch belongs to the District of Invermere since it appeared to be part of the Lake Windermere Resort (LWR) lands, which the district purchased for $5 million following a public referendum in 2017. But the boat launch is located on the foreshore, and consequently the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy may also have jurisdiction over it.

“It is not entirely clear,” said Invermere chief administrative officer Andrew Young.

He explained that, from what he understands, the river mouth near the boat launch is an important spawning area. Doing any repair work requires permits, he noted, and “this will take some time.” Invermere director of public works and operations Angela MacLean added that environmental permitting processes have changed a lot in the past decade and that even structures that are out of the water still need environmental permits if they are on the foreshore.

Young noted that, prior to the district closing the concrete part of the boat launch, some people had ripped the wheels off their trailers when trying to put their boats in the water there.

The Columbia Valley Boating Association (CVBA) recently sent a letter to Invermere council, asking about the boat launch.

“Over the years, there has been a noticeable lack of attention and maintenance, which has raised significant worries about public safety and the associated risks,” read the letter.

The letter referenced the beginning of work to change the LWR lands into park space and noted that this “only amplifies the urgency to address the longstanding neglect of the boat launch facilities. The economic and social benefits of developing a proper boat launch area cannot be overstated. Not only would it enhance our tourism and recreation potential, but it would also cater to the needs of our residents and vibrant recreational second home community.”

The CVBA urged Invermere council and staff to prioritize fixing the boat launch area and offered to help the district.