Seeing an increase in recreational boating has been a pleasant surprise for Deer Lake, but the town may have to revisit how it is going to handle all the traffic heading for the river.
During its public meeting held Monday evening, the Deer Lake town council spent around 20 minutes discussing the growing issue with the designated boat launch area on the mouth of the upper Humber River.
The rising popularity of boating has led to congestion in and around the boat launch area at times.
Coun. Amanda Freake initiated the discussion Monday when she told the rest of council she felt there should be another area found for a boat launch.
“It’s madness when you go over there on a Saturday afternoon,” said Freake. “This is a huge recreational thing that has taken off in our community and we should put some proper planning in place.”
Mayor Dean Ball agreed, noting that some area residences have had driveways blocked off by vehicles parked after launching boats. On nice days in particular, said the mayor, the traffic is reduced to one lane at times.
“It’s an issue we can’t close our eyes on,” he said. “It’s a public safety issue.”
Much of the surrounding land is privately owned and the town has few options for any great expansion using what is available. Launching boats directly from Deer Lake itself on a regular basis is not feasible, given the shoreline is subject to low water levels.
Newfoundland Power donated a green space adjacent to the boat launch that is used as a viewing area. The idea of turning that into a parking lot for around 10 vehicles was not well received.
“I don’t think we should destroy what we have over there,” said Coun. Jean Young. “I think it’s beautiful. To move what we have there to another area, it’s not going to be the same.”
Deputy Mayor Sandra Pinksen reminded her fellow council members the land was a gift from the utility.
“I think it would be slap in the face to Newfoundland Power — the money they put into that project and then for us to go and tear it up,” she said.
Among the options that seemed to make sense and be somewhat agreeable were turning a smaller area on the opposite side of the boat launch ramp from the viewing space into a parking area.
David Thomas, the town’s public works superintendent, figured they might be able to put four or five parking spaces there.
Ball also suggested the town look into the idea of developing an area at the extreme boundary of Deer Lake Municipal Park at the mouth of the upper Humber River.
In the end, council resolved to have Thomas survey the options and to report back to council with what he discovers about the suggestions.