Boat users call for upgrades to Nanaimo’s Brechin ramp

NANAIMO – Lack of access in other communities combined with better fishing is leading to conflict at launch

Access problems, parking shortages and yelling matches between boaters has fishermen calling on the city to take action on Nanaimo’s Brechin Boat Ramp.

Nanaimo fishermen are angling for improvements at the city-owned Brechin Boat Ramp, from increased parking to etiquette education and extra floats.

With a major turnaround in fishing over the past three years and the popularity of recreational water sports, they say the ramp is at capacity and has become a choke point for people wanting to access the water. There are reports of parking being at capacity, traffic congestion and verbal and physical altercations between users trying to get into and out of the Newcastle Channel.

According to fishermen, part of the problem is the facility was built to accommodate the city’s needs close to three decades ago but is now seeing larger boats, higher usage and more varied groups accessing the ramp, such as fishing guides and paddlers.

“A few years ago you could go down there any day of the week and there would only be a half-dozen trailers,” said Clyde Wicks, chairman of Nanaimo’s Sport Fishing Advisory Committee. “Now on weekends – Saturday and Sunday – the place is jammed.”

Twenty trailers is considered a good day at the facility.

Gerry Rupp, owner of Invictus Charters, calls the ramp an “embarrassment” that needs investment.

“If you went back 30 years ago, yeah, it was a good facility,” he said.“Now it’s so oversubscribed and underdeveloped. They need a place three times that size.”

Rupp and Wicks anticipate the use of ramp will only increase as good fishing continues. A Nanoose ramp is also expected to shutter and they say it’s important to look at how Brechin can handle any additional demand.

“If this year is any indication and fishing continues to get better, which is what’s predicted, then we definitely have to look at better traffic flow there, more parking and maybe we even need an attendant down there on weekends,” Wicks said, adding the person could help direct traffic and collect parking fees.

Rick Ferguson is chairman of a boat launch users group that operates under the Sport Advisory Committee umbrella and he also supports change.

“It’s a beautiful harbour we have and we are having trouble getting people out into it,” he said.

Richard Harding, the city’s director of parks, recreation and environment, said the City of Nanaimo will start to work with user groups on an ongoing basis and could make some fixes this summer, including potential education about etiquette and signage. It also plans to talk to users about potential long-term solutions.

The city will also look at potential improvements to Charlaine Boat Ramp in north Nanaimo, which is also experiencing high demand.