Horseshoe lake upgrades on hold

by EVAN MATTHEWS

Though Ducks Unlimited and the McBride Chamber of Commerce announced plans to upgrade Horseshoe Lake in May, the upgrades haven’t happened and there is no definitive timetable.

The upgrades, which were supposed to start in September, have been in limbo due to negotiations between Ducks Unlimited and the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG), according to Brad Arner, Manager of Provincial Operations for B.C.

“Our staff met with the RDFFG about forming a partnership,” says Arner. “As we move forward, we’re finding it harder and harder to maintain (the lake).”
The current water control infrastructure, which is on private land, is at the end of its 30-year lifespan, according to Arner.

More specifically, Arner says the water control structure is actually called a “drop structure”, which is made of steel and the water can be corrosive to it.
The drop structure, according to Arner, holds the water level stable in Horseshoe Lake, so it doesn’t become inundated by the Fraser River. The drop structure stabilizes the water levels, which is good for birds during their breeding season, so they aren’t flooded out in their breeding and feeding areas, he says.

“The original infrastructure was paid for completely by Ducks Unlimited, but it would cost a lot more in today’s dollars,” Arner says, noting financial strain is causing the most burden to Ducks Unlimited, with estimates for the upgrades ranging from $50,000 to $100,000.

Because Ducks Unlimited would be working on a water source, Arner says extra caution needs to be taken to protect the water from any siltation, pollution or contaminants.

“We’d like to have a partnership with someone who has interest in (Horseshoe Lake),” says Arner.

“If we look after the infrastructure, they can look after the long-term maintenance,” he says.

In October, the RDFFG heard a presentation at the Sub Regional Services Standing Committee in October pertaining to Horseshoe Lake, according to spokesperson Renee McCloskey.

The RDFFG Board passed a motion to consider transfer of responsibility for Horseshoe Lake’s water controls from Ducks Unlimited to the RDFFG, and that work is still underway, according to McCloskey.

Renovations planned to the public area, according to Arner, are on hold until the water control structure has been replaced.

Ducks Unlimited is aiming for construction to begin in the spring of 2017, Arner says, adding there are definite weather windows they have to work within, while also watching the water levels of the Fraser River.

“We can’t work if water levels are really high,” he says.

If the repairs don’t happen soon, Arner says Ducks Unlimited will remove the water control structure, which would revert Horseshoe Lake into a more lake with widely fluctuating water levels.

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