The new Tsartlip Boat Ramp will support the Marine Stewardship Program and improve community life.

(Shown above: The Tsartlip Boat ramp during last summer’s races)

The Tsartlip Boat Ramp is a critical piece of community infrastructure. Yet, over the 50 years since it was built, the Ramp has accumulated substantial damage. Cars and trailers often get stuck around the ramp, parking is difficult, and the existing drains are obstructed by gravel.

Excitingly, the Marine Stewardship Program – a new Tsartlip program that works to mitigate the impacts of human activity on the Salish Sea – provided the impetus to breathe new life into the Boat Ramp. It will soon see major upgrades that will benefit the Program and the greater Tsartlip community alike.

The Marine Stewardship Program is part of the Salish Sea Initiative – a Government of Canada program that supports Indigenous groups’ efforts to “monitor cumulative impacts of human activities on local marine ecosystems.” To participate in the Salish Sea Initiative, Tsartlip needs to expand its capacity in a number of ways. As part of this capacity building, Tsartlip has already purchased two boats and a work truck. An upgraded Boat Ramp is next on the list.

Tsartlip is working with Studio 531 architects to design and build the best possible Boat Ramp to meet the needs of the Tsartlip community. While it will have everything necessary for the Marine Stewardship Program to successfully monitor the Salish Sea – including office space and moorage for several vessels – it will also significantly improve community use.

The Request for Proposals issued by Studio 531 indicates the new Boat Ramp area will include an “upgraded boat ramp and dock,” “upgraded parking area,” “new boardwalk, gangway, and docks,” and “upgraded pedestrian amenities, and areas for non-motorized marine activities including swimming, traditional war canoe paddlers, tribal journeys, canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards” and more. The upgrades will also feature “an office/emergency building with washroom, shower and spray down,” according to the Marine Habitat Impact Assessment completed on the project.

The process to ensure the Boat Ramp is built skillfully, carefully, and in a way that meets community needs has been exhaustive. Tsartlip and Studio 531 engaged Aquaparian Environmental Consulting Ltd to complete a Marine Habitat Impact Assessment, and Millennia Research Limited Archaeological and Heritage Consulting to complete an Archaeological Impact Assessment.

According to Studio 531’s Report, Aquaparian Assessment found that “no sensitive habitat or species-at-risk were observed during the site survey within the marine environment.”

The Archaeological Assessment found the site of the Boat Ramp is of “high scientific significance.” The Assessment described the “age and specific nature” of the Boat Ramp site as “virtually unknown to archaeologists,” and included recommendations to manage archaeological resources while completing the Boat Ramp project.

According to Brad Janvier – Director of Capital Projects – assessing the archaeological impact of this project will be ongoing. In his own words, “as the project becomes more active, we will get some new information, but we’re working very closely with the community to make sure there is plenty of notice and everyone’s involved.”

With the Marine Habitat Impact Assessment and initial Archaeological Impact Assessment complete and the Request for Proposals issued, the new Boat Ramp project is well underway and will be ready for use by the Marine Stewardship Program and the greater Tsartlip community in Spring 2024.

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