Safety is the biggest issue: Reeve Brisco
By Don Norman
The question of how to replace “Fisherman’s Warf” – the boat launch on Traverse Bay – is coming up on its 10 year anniversary.
In October 2010, the boat launch was destroyed in a massive storm that ripped through the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg.
It wasn’t until 2017 that a plan was established and the required permits were applied for. And it’s been stalled at that stage since then.
The application process began in September 2017 when the RM applied for an Environment Act Licence from the province, a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Authorization and federal transportation authorization.
In August 2018 DFO said they couldn’t grant it because of concerns over potential harm to fish populaitons. They provided the RM a list of requests that included a $240,000 letter of credit to cover any potential damages to fish habitat. The RM complied.
In September 2018, they reeceved their Environment Act Licence from the province. Interestingly, the province said that since resource use is not anticipated to be affected by the project, it is concluded that Crown-Indigenous consultation is not required for the project.
In December 2018, they received their authorization from the Dept of Transportation. And also that same month, the DFO said that they were now dealing wtih objections from Sagkeeng First Nation that would further delay approval.
In February 2019, the RM met with Chief Henderson and Sagkeeng band councillors regarding their concerns and the RM provided Sagkeeng with the information they requested.
Then the DFO delayed a couple more times (the consultation process is supposed to take 90 days but they suspended that timeline several times).
In December 2019, the DFO sent a team to meet with Sagkeeng.
In January 2020 Selkirk-Interlake MP James Bezan sent a stronly worded letter to the DFO.
And finally in February 2020, the DFO provided the RM with an in-depth list of all the concerns raised by Sagkeeng and the DFO’s responses. The correspondence also suggested a meeting in the near future.
The document included pages and pages of requests for the effect of the boat launch would have on varioius species of fish in the Lake.
At the February 19 regular meeting of the RM of Alexander Council, the frustration over the delays in getting this project moving was clear.
While some commercial fishers would surely use the boat launch, they have been getting by without it for years now. But Reeve Brisco, said the main concern is safety. If someone was drowning in Traverse bay, the rescue boat would have to come from around the point.