District passes on ownership of historic, decrepit weir

The Rock Groyne hasn't been maintained since it was first built, and has been a boating hazard since at least the 1960s.

In the 1890s the weir at the north end of Lake Windermere made it easier for steamships to navigate the area. Today it’s underwater, out of commission and, according to the District of Invermere, too much of a risk to take off the federal government’s hands.

For about a year the district has been in talks with the Canadian government about taking ownership of the Lake Windermere Rock Groyne, after both the B.C. government and the Regional District of East Kootenay passed on adopting the site.

But after studying what remains of the weir, district CAO Chris Prosser says¬† it would be too expensive and too much of a liability to assume, “unless the federal government decided to reinvest in it.”

According to a staff report, the Rock Groyne hasn’t been maintained since it was first built, and has been a boating hazard since at least the 1960s. That makes the weir particularly unattractive to the district, since any accidents caused by the Groyne would be the district’s responsibility if it took over the site.

Previous councils had considered establishing a boardwalk along the Groyne, but Prosser says the district is years away from being able to afford to upgrade the structure without outside help. Members of council agreed the site was financially out of reach for the district.

“It’s a nice idea, the whole boardwalk idea,” said councillor Spring Hawes. “But considering we have talked about many different improvements or ideas along our waterfront and we seem to be a long way from even achieving those ones, it doesn’t make sense to take on another project.”

“It probably falls under the category of, ‘might be nice,'” added mayor Gerry Taft. While the structure is a part of the area’s history, “with it being underwater and not serving any purpose any more, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to save.”

While the district voted to pass on the Rock Groyne, it also alerted the Canadian government that it might reconsider in the future, if the feds decided to re-establish the weir or construct a boardwalk in the area using their own funds.