District workers install the silk curtain in front of the boat launch in Athalmer

District workers install the silk curtain in front of the boat launch in Athalmer

Athalmer Boat Launch undergoes much-needed maintenance

District gets launch ready for busy summer boating season

Those in the community who have used the boat launch in Athalmer may recall a deep section of water followed by a gravel berm that has a history of damaging watercrafts. Boaters will be happy to hear that the District of Invermere has been working over the last two months to get approval from the federal and provincial government to update the launch.

“The district wanted it to be ready for boating season and it’s been something people have brought to our attention quite a few times, especially when propellors would break on the berm,” said Andrea Smillie, environmental special projects coordinator for the District of Invermere.

The project had district staff excavating the gravel buildup to prevent property damage to boats while loading and unloading into the lake.

“Over the years people’s propellors have been washing this material up into a pile of gravel so the area has become pretty useless as a boat launch,” said Smillie.

Before any work was done to the boat launch, the district went through a full environmental process and created a site isolation plan to ensure the protection of fish habitat.

“We had to purchase what’s called a silt curtain, it creates a barrier so that any sediment that’s being stirrred up in the area doesn’t leak out into the channel,” said Smilie. Adding “so this curtain floats on top of the water then it extends all the way down to the bottom and there’s a chain that keeps it resting on the bottom of the channel. So that sediment that gets stirred up doesn’t go downstream.”

District of Invermere staff worked alongside a qualified environment professional from Lotic Environmental in Cranbrook B.C..

“He monitored the site while we did the work, did a site isolation plan for us (and) we have an environmental protection plan. It was quite the process for just a few hours of excavating,” said Smillie.

Mayor Gerry Taft said the maintenance was needed to the boat launch adding, “We’re making sure it’s being done properly in accordance with all the environmental rules.”

He went on to explain the maintenance is not a permanent solution to the problem.

“We did a commission that looked at both the existing launch area as well as an area below the Invermere Bay condos and that did recommend potential options for improving the launch pad and material that could be used that would limit erosion, limit more material collecting,” said Taft.

However, the district would be looking at upwards of $200,000 to do a permanent fix to the boat launch and with limited funds and public land in the area it wasn’t feasible at this time. The district did want to ensure the launch was safe to use for this summer season and will continue to investigate a more permanent solution.