Lack of parking and spit removal among major barriers to marine access in Squamish

Limited boat access, lack of parking and spit removal are the top barriers to boat access in the community, according to a survey conducted by the District of Squamish.

The district deployed and promoted two separate community marine access surveys on the project’s engagement hub. The polls were open for comment from February 17 to March 13, 2022.

The findings of the investigation were included in a recent district report.

Limited space on docks, marine safety, construction at Oceanfront, lack of mooring and signage were seen as other challenges for better marine access in the community.

“There is no easy place for non-motorized people to congregate and create community,” said one respondent.

Another respondent lamented the confusion and vagueness of waterfront ownership.

“The spit is removed, the waterfront park is blocked and the boat launch is occupied, the marina is private. The rest of the access is steep or difficult or restricted or no parking,” said another survey respondent.

The largest number of survey participants came from the Squamish Windsports Society, followed by the Squamish Yacht Club. Other local clubs that participated in the survey include Squamish Paddle Club, Sailing BC, My Sea to Sky, SwimWild, Squamish Trails Society, Squamish Access Society, Squamish CAN, Sea to Sky Marine Trail, Marine Search and Rescue , Squamish River Watershed Society, Squamish Titans, Squamish Environment Society, Squamish Streamkeepers, BioDiversity Squamish and the Squamish Dragon Boat Association.

The district also asked respondents about current launch sites for non-motorized use. The three main marine launch sites for respondents include the Squamish River from the Spit Road (new culvert), the existing boat launch on Vancouver Street on the MBC, and the Squamish Waterfront (east side of Mamquam Blind Channel, north of Pocket Beach).

Secondary access points include Spit Road further north near the Estuary Slam Trail, via the MBC at Xwu’nekw Park (end of Main Street) and Central Estuary/Crescent Slough from Bailey Street. Other launch sites (named) have specified the Old Spit, Nexan Beach, Britannia Beach, from the boat, and Porteau Cove.

The two highest ranked amenities (out of 5) to include in future non-motorized boat launch sites are boat storage and short-term parking for boat or watercraft disembarkation. These were ranked slightly higher on average than public toilets/changing rooms.

Major marine destinations for non-motorized respondents are located within 6.5 km of the city center, including the Squamish Estuary, the Howe Sound Basin (area north to Watt’s Point) and in the Mamquam Blind Channel.

Secondary destinations include Britannia Beach and Porteau Cove, Southern Howe Sound, the Squamish and Mamquam River areas and the Sunshine Coast.

The other most frequently cited destinations were the mouth of the Squamish River and proximity to the spit. Main activities on the water or on the shore included walking or hiking, stand-up paddling, motor boating, sailing sports, sea swimming, kayaking, nature study or observation wildlife, followed by fishing/harvesting and sailing.

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