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UPDATED: RDCK moves to protect Nelson's north shore beaches
Regional government is taking the first steps in protecting two popular beaches along Nelson’s north shore.
RDCK director Ron Mickel is spearheading safeguarding of Five-Mile and Six-Mile beaches along Highway 3A for public use.
Locals have been concerned about access to the Five-Mile beach after a Calgary couple that has a summer home in the area submitted an application for private moorage in early 2013.
Plans for the proposed dock appeared to have the structure cutting across crown land and one of the last remaining public beaches on the North Shore. Even after homeowners revised their plan last fall, people remained strong in opposing any development.
Five-Mile beach, also referred to as Willow Point, features a curved sandbar extending into Kootenay Lake. Within that curve exists a natural wading pool and swimming area for children making the beach popular with families.
“The dock issue brought this to the forefront,” said Mickel. “It was never considered a priority. The access was there. The beach was there for everyone to enjoy so the RDCK never felt the pressure to take responsibility for it.”
Now, the Parks Commission has agreed to pursue protection. The matter is slated for the next regional board meeting and Mickel is confident the ball will continue to roll.
Application for public access will be filed with the Ministry of Transportation who would grant protection of the foreshore.
Area resident Eva Myers McKimm is pleased to see movement toward protecting a beach that so many cherish.
"As long term residents we are relieved that the community beach will officially become protected for public use," she said. "This has been a polarized issue in our neighbourhood for a couple of years, and we are very pleased that the RDCK is stepping in to maintain what we consider to be the status quo for beach users."
Mickel has been an advocate of protecting lands for public use since being elected.
“I think it’s important to preserve those special places. History has identified, just by the number of people who use it, that obviously it’s very important to the community,” he said.
There are some other areas Mickel feels in need of protection.
“But I think that would be biting off to much for the board so I will go for these two and hopefully get them first,” he said.
At the time of publication, property owners proposing the dock at Five-Mile Jane and Mark Andreychuck hadn't returned calls from the Star for comment.