Schwatka Lake boat launch approved

City council has given the Yukon Breeze Sailing Society conditional approval to build a boat launch and dock on the eastern shore of Schwatka Lake. The decision came at Monday evening’s council meeting, where Councillor Betty Irwin was the lone voice against the proposal.

City council has given the Yukon Breeze Sailing Society conditional approval to build a boat launch and dock on the eastern shore of Schwatka Lake.

The decision came at Monday evening’s council meeting, where Councillor Betty Irwin was the lone voice against the proposal.

Irwin said she had concerns about the project at the proposed site, which would be located about 1.4 kilometres down Chadburn Lake Road, because the group’s shipping containers and fences would be “intrusive and somewhat unsightly.”

“Let’s hold back a bit,” she said.

The non-profit, which has operated from the Schwatka Lake day use area since last year, applied to move its two sea cans to the new site, which would store sailing equipment.

It also wants to put up some fencing, clear and level land, install a floating dock, build a ramp and put an outhouse on site.

Activities at the site would include day camps as well as evening and weekend courses, with up to 10 sail boats used.

The site would remain open to the public, with a locked gate placed at the access point.

Council’s decision comes with several caveats, however.

The non-profit has to complete a heritage report, a trail plan and a clean-up plan before it can apply for a development permit from the city.

The location has been identified as a possible archeological site, according to the city’s administrative report.

At a public input night held on May 25, the society’s president said that every effort would be made to make the area as attractive as possible, “and leave everything the way it is now.”

“Sea cans aren’t the prettiest things but in our proposal we mentioned that we’d like to paint them so they fit in with the environment,” said Dave Hildes.

“The fencing that we’ve proposed would only go between the sea cans so that we could put a roof over them and create an outdoor classroom for kids, when the weather is bad. The fencing will never prevent anyone from accessing the shore.”

Hildes said the site was picked because it’s close to the city and the group’s activities would be visible to the community.

“We want to be where people can see us, because we want people to join us.”

Another resident at the public input night spoke out against the proposal, saying she’s used the trail along the shore for years and was concerned the development at the new site would take away from the area’s pristine landscape.

“It’s quite sad to even consider this type of project on that part of land,” said Erin Benoit.

“Other societies will ask for a chunk of that lake front, too. The proposal is being pushed forward as quickly as possible.”

From 2008 to 2013, the society offered sailing camps on Marsh Lake before moving its operations to Schwatka Lake last year. It considers its current site to be unsuitable for long-term use because of unpredictable winds in that area of the lake, according to the city’s report.

The group assessed nine different sites, on both the eastern and western sides of the lake, as well as potential sites on Chadburn Lake.

The criteria included terrain, proximity to the city, wind conditions, road access and safety hazards.

It was ultimately decided that the west side of the lake was more suitable for casual boating use, while the east side was more suitable for programming.

This was also based on safety concerns related to sailboats crossing the flight path of float planes based on Schwatka Lake.

The project’s construction phase is proposed to begin this month, prior to the start of the 2015 sailing season, the report states.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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