The long-awaited Campbell River Big Rock Boat Ramp reopened early October after a considerable upgrade during the peak fishing season (June-October 2018). Over the season, the closure was a major inconvenience for most fishermen who has no choice but to find other places to launch.
Phase 1 of the renovation to Big Rock Boat Ramp, estimated to cost $2.1 million, includes a floating dock system, wider ramp, raised breakwaters, and more parking. The floating dock is meant for launch/return to the ramp and not for long period stays. The ramp has a new paved high-traction finish, which will help most people get traction to pull the boat out of the water compared to slipping on algae and seaweed. The taller breakwater will help protect from the waves and gravel/sand build up in the basin. The breakwater entrance has been dug deeper to help launch at low tides and there is approximately 50% more parking than before.
Since opening, there’s been a lot of buzz and mixed option about the ramp on social media. Most fishermen are thankful that the city upgraded the boat launch since we live in “The Salmon Capital of the World”. However, fishermen still find the boat ramp parking is an issue. It is hard to turn around in the full parking lot to back a trailer down the ramp. Turning into the new parking area has a tight corner which makes for some tricky maneuvers, especially with parked trailers to watch for. Backing out of the parking area with a trailer in tow is equally tight, with the parking barrier to be mindful of. There is also concern of people/fishing buddies with no boat trailer or water sport equipment taking up valuable space at the parking lot. We hope there will be parking signage designate to launch users only with trailer or water sport equipment. With the new raised breakwaters, people can walk on it and enjoy great ocean views. The question is, will it stay as a free public boat launch?
There will be a phase 2 upgrade that includes parking lot arrangements and vehicle movements, public park amenities with washrooms, and a potential fish cleaning station in review by the Campbell River Council for 2019. We all hope this upgrade is not in the middle of the peak fishing.