Limited marine access, lack of parking, and spit removal are the top barriers to marine access in the community, according to a survey conducted by the District of Squamish.
The District deployed and promoted two distinct community marine access surveys on the project engagement hub. The surveys were open for input from February 17 until March 13, 2022.
The findings of the survey were included in a recent District report.
Limited dock space, marine safety, construction at Oceanfront, lack of moorage and signage were considered other challenges for better marine access in the community.
“There is no easy place where non-motorized folks can gather and create community,” said one respondent.
Another respondent lamented the confusing and unclear waterfront ownership.
“The spit is removed, waterfront park blocked off, and boat launch is busy, marina is private. The rest of the access is steep or awkward or restricted or no parking,” said another survey respondent.
The greatest number of participants in the survey came from the Squamish Windsports Society, followed by the Squamish Yacht Club. Other local clubs that took part in the survey include the 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 the current launch sites for non-motorized use. The top three marine launch sites for respondents include Squamish River from the Spit Rd (new box culvert), the existing Boat Launch at Vancouver Street on the MBC, and the Squamish Oceanfront (east side Mamquam Blind Channel, north of pocket beach).
Secondary access locations include the Spit Road further north near the estuary’s Chelem Trail, via the MBC at Xwu’nekw Park (Main Street end), and the central estuary / Crescent Slough from Bailey Street. Other launch sites (named) specified the former Spit, Nexan Beach, Britannia Beach, from boat, and Porteau Cove.
The top two ranked amenities (out of 5) for inclusion in future non-motorized launch site(s) are watercraft storage, and short-term parking for boat or watercraft drop-off. These were ranked slightly higher on average above public washroom/changeroom.
Top marine destinations for non-motorized respondents are situated within 6.5km of downtown, including the Squamish Estuary, Howe Sound Basin (northern area to Watt’s Point) and within the Mamquam Blind Channel.
Secondary destinations include Britannia Beach and Porteau Cove, southern Howe Sound, the Squamish and Mamquam River areas and Sunshine Coast.
Other destinations most often named were the Squamish river mouth and close to the Spit. The top activities either on the water or on the shore included walking or hiking, stand-up paddling, motorized boating, windsports, ocean swimming , kayaking, nature study or wildlife viewing, followed by fishing/harvesting and sailing.