In a recent survey, most islanders said they preferred the current style of private camping spots in the Rennell Sound recreation area, rather than larger, group-oriented sites. (Recreation Sites and Trails BC)

In a recent survey, most islanders said they preferred the current style of private camping spots in the Rennell Sound recreation area, rather than larger, group-oriented sites. (Recreation Sites and Trails BC)

More funding needed for Rennell Sound breakwater

There is a plan, but not enough funding yet to build a breakwater and expand the recreation site at Rennell Sound.

Without a breakwater, the Rennell boat ramp is exposed to waves, and shifting gravel often piles up at the base.

“It’s really tricky to get a boat in and out,” says Port Clements Mayor Urs Thomas, especially if the wind picks up while boaters are away.

One wavy day last year, Thomas said some people nearly got squeezed between their boat and trailer while trying to launch.

For decades, islanders relied on the more protected launch at Clapp Basin, but it’s now water-access only since its road access was decommissioned in 2014.

Larry Duke, a recreation officer with Recreation Sites and Trails B.C., said engineers have finished a plan for a rubble-mound breakwater at Rennell Sound, but the provincial agency will need several partners to fund it.

Engineers with Northwest Hydraulic Consultants found the Rennell beach drops off steeply about 30 metres from shore, meaning the cost to build the breakwater longer than that rises exponentially.

“We think if we at least get a breakwater to the drop-off point, that will provide pretty good coverage,” Duke said, adding that the west-facing launch will always be somewhat exposed.

“The nice thing about this design is that we can add on as we find funding in the future.”

Duke said the breakwater will certainly cost over $100,000, noting that there is no nearby rock hard enough to build it — the breakwater at Moresby Camp was built with rock sourced from Texada Island.

Maintaining the forestry roads to Rennell is not part of the expansion plan — that depends largely on forestry companies, though a contractor was hired by the province last week to touch up the road beyond Rennell Pass area where Taan Forest has been logging and re-grading the road.

Given that companies are using the log sort at Kagan Bay, Duke said the route from Queen Charlotte is in better shape than one from Port Clements.

Besides the breakwater, there are also plans to expand the recreation site at Rennell.

About 75 islanders answered an online survey last winter on how they would like to see it improved.

“We thought folks would be interested in more large group sites, but the feedback was trending more towards your traditional, private sites,” said Duke, who was glad to see responses came from all parts of Haida Gwaii.

“It’s good to see that everybody on Haida Gwaii goes there and enjoys it.”