Spruce Point Park harbour will remain open, vows council

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County is committed to the future of Spruce Point Park harbour it acquired from the federal government four years ago.

At its regular meeting Feb. 14, council discussed a report on the project as council plans for the future.

Big Lakes purchased the harbour at Spruce Point Park from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) on Feb. 21, 2020 for $1, states a report from Pat Olansky, director of community services and planning.

The harbour is comprised of a rubble-mound breakwater, a launch ramp (Petraflex slab on grade) and a steel bin retaining wall with steel channel cap.

At its regular meeting Jan. 10, council directed administration to provide information on the marina acquisition and proposed future plans.

A transfer agreement between Big Lakes and the DFO was signed March 3, 2020.

“The agreement stipulates that Big Lakes shall make all reasonable efforts to keep the property safe from damage, theft or other loss and to insure against its loss, use the property as a public harbour and provide uninterrupted public access for a period of five years from the date it accepted ownership,” Olansky told council.

Upon acquisition, Big Lakes entered into a rental agreement with the Spruce Point Park Association to lease the harbour for five years.

Council directed administration at the recent meeting to invite representatives of the association and DFO to a meeting to discuss priorities to maintain the harbour.

North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk asked about the future of the harbour.

“What are the future plans?” he asked.

Faust Councillor Robert Nygaard replied it has to be dredged every year or two.

Grouard Councillor Jeff Chalifoux then asked about the cost.

“How much is it going to cost us to maintain the facility?” he asked.

Maintaining the harbour can cost the County a lot, replied Kevin Cymbaluk, director of operations.

“Costs add up very quickly,” Cymbaluk said.

Crews continue to work to upgrade the breakwater, he added.

“We do want to clean it up,” Cymbaluk said.

The rent for the association is 20 per cent of all gross revenue from users fees and charges, Olansky wrote in her report.

Big Lakes agreed to hold the money in a separate capital reserve account.

The association is responsible for minor repairs.

Notice must be provided to Big Lakes if there is a need for major or structural repairs. All structural or major repairs are subject to budget approval by Big Lakes. When such repairs are warranted, Big Lakes and the association shall consider and together decide on the terms of the project on a case-by-case basis.

The agreement may be terminated at any time upon 90 days written notice by either party.

The Government of Canada gave Big Lakes a $2 million grant upon acquisition of the harbour.

If the County ceases to operate or disposes of the harbour, or seeks to have the restrictions removed from the agreement within five years of taking ownership, Big Lakes shall reimburse DFO the $2 million grant plus $140,000 as the current value of the harbour.

The grant agreement, also dated March 3, 2020, stipulates that Big Lakes agrees to continue to operate and maintain the harbour for its current purpose as specified in the transfer agreement for a period of five years

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