Public debate regarding an unofficial Lake Wanapitei boat launch in Skead heated up even more, with the Lake Wahnapitae Home and Campers Association weighing into the controversy.
“We would just like them to remove all the boulders at the Poupore Road West landing, period,” president Chuck Jackobs told Sudbury.com, adding that the negatives ascribed by opponents to the longstanding boat launch area have been overstated.
Located at the end of Poupore Road West, the unofficial boat launch became a controversial topic last month when the city installed several large boulders to block lake access.
A handful of area residents had petitioned the city to block lake access in response to various nuisance complaints related to people launching their boats and ice fishing huts from the site. Their chief concern related to traffic, with people reportedly blocking driveways while lined up to launch their boats and parking illegally, which can also block access on the narrow street.
The decision by city staff to install the barriers resulted in an immediate pushback from lake users, many of whom require the launch to get their ice fishing huts onto the lake. This is the only access point at this side of the lake during the winter months, with the nearby Tony’s Marina closing for the season.
In response, Mayor Brian Bigger ordered staff to remove a few of the boulders to accommodate winter users and plans on requesting the city to undertake public consultation to come up with a permanent solution that accounts for all user groups. The topic is expected to come up during the Jan. 11 city council meeting, when a pro-lake access petition is slated to be presented.
Although supportive of public consultation, Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo has said Poupore Road West must be taken off the table when it comes to lake access and that an alternative location should be found.
As of Thursday, there were two pro-lake access petitions known to Sudbury.com, including the initial petition to be presented next month, which had 609 signatures in addition to whatever names have been collected on a paper petition being circulated. A separate change.org petition also calling for the reinstatement of lake access had 126 signatures.
This week’s addition of the Lake Wahnapitae Home and Campers Association has seen the group join the chorus of voices in favour of the lake access. The association includes 180 member households, representing more than 300 residents and users of the lake.
“In my 30 years I have never seen parking so bad as what is being alluded to by Coun. Jakubo or the petitioners,” said Jacobs, who also lives on Poupard Road West.
“I would see a maximum of three boat trailers parked on Delores Road, other times I’ve probably seen two trailers parked at the landing. … There’s just not that much boat traffic. There’s not exactly a dozen boats at a time trying to get in, there’s not five boats at a time trying to get in.”
In the association’s letter to Bigger, it’s noted there “may be five days total during the boating season when, for several hours in the afternoon … there may be multiple boats accessing the landing. And on those busy days, people will definitely not be parking there.”
Reluctant to get into a back and forth, Poupore Road West resident Sandra Foley, who joined others in opposing lake access on their street, said that they’re standing their ground.
“We 100-per-cent back Mike Jakubo and the city staff's decision,” she said. “The facts are the facts; they have not changed.”
As for the idea there isn’t much traffic at Poupard Road West, she pointed to the hundreds of signatures on pro-lake access petitions as evidence to the contrary.
“That’s how many people are using the launch,” she said. “It’s clear by the amount of people that are being outspoken about it being closed how many people actually use the launch.”
With city council debate expected on Jan. 11, Jacobs said he looks forward to meaningful dialogue that results in maintained year-round lake access in Skead.
“Hopefully, the way the city process works is they listen to reason and ask all users and not just a few locals.”
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.