The Regional District of Central Kootenay is set to assume ownership of the wharf at McDonalds Landing.
Area F director Ron Mickel says Fisheries and Oceans Canada will transfer the North Shore facility to local government hands at no cost after replacing all the woodwork above the high-water mark.
“It was fast-tracked because we were proposing to go after it anyway as part of our official community plan,” Mickel says, “and the federal government had some money to spend before the end of its fiscal 2022.”
Mickel says the wharf was offered to the regional district some time ago, but things began to happen last summer when some residents approached him, concerned private interests would buy it or that it would be dismantled altogether.
Federal officials indicated they weren’t prepared to pay for repairs unless some other body agreed to look after it.
According to Mickel, the regional district may have to spend “$5,000 every 20 years” on upkeep, which could be recouped through dock rentals.
“It has a very nice ramp and dock,” he says. “Moorage is always at a premium, so we’re looking at possibly renting some out and putting that money aside for maintenance.”
McDonalds Landing is a former sternwheeler stop which is today perhaps best known as the launching point to reach Camp Koolaree on the opposite side of Kootenay Lake.
“I think it’s important we preserve it as an historic site,” Mickel says. “We don’t have too many left in Area F.”
The transfer would include the wharf and access road only. The surrounding land is privately owned, although Mickel says they may look at buying some of it for parking.
While the agreement has not been finalized, he doesn’t expect any problems.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada regional manager Robin Richardson says the wharf repairs will be done in three phases, “the first being the approach, which we’re trying to finish by first week in March. That’s railings and deckings. Later work includes a majority of the float work — replacing planking and tie-up rails.”
The contract for the first phase has already been awarded, and the entire project should be complete by the end of March. “Our intention is to give [the regional district] a nice, fresh facility,” Richardson says.
It’s not the only site Mickel has his eye on.
“I’m hoping by September we’ll have some kind of major vision for the area as far as beaches and accesses,” he says. “Five Mile Beach is important, Six Mile Beach is important, a number of public accesses are important.”
In fact, Six Mile Beach will benefit from the McDonalds Landing project. A piece of the dock that broke loose after a fire grounded on the beach, and Mickel says it’s been “a real pain in the butt ever since. It’s a hassle for swimmers.”
Fisheries and Oceans has agreed to remove it as part of the upgrade.
Mickel says the idea of building a pedestrian crossing on the pilings of the old Taghum bridge is still alive. Spearhead Timberworks is putting together a design and cost estimates.
“Maybe it will be out of reach. I’m not sure. But it’s definitely something we want and something the former director [Al Dawson] wanted.”
The project would likely need buy-in from the City of Nelson and Area E as participants in the regional parks program, Mickel adds. “I’m hoping to lay the groundwork, at least get them to accept the vision we can work toward.”