EDITOR - TODD LIHOU: Boats, bikes and bathers - something has to give

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There's a disaster waiting to happen in Lamoureux Park, and this summer could be the time when it finally comes to pass.

It's not the goose poop (that disaster is in full effect), but instead involves the boat ramp behind the Royal Canadian Air Force Association building along the St. Lawrence River.

I'm a boater, and have seen more than a few such ramps all over eastern Ontario and parts of New York State. The one we have in Cornwall is screaming for tragedy.

The problem is its proximity to the bike path that cuts through the park and the desire of young Cornwall swimmers to find a place to cool off in the summer.

Children, at almost every time of the day, can be found swimming at the ramp – jumping off the dock or wading into the water at the launch itself. Often my wife and I would have to warn the children away before backing the boat into the water.

Of course swimming is prohibited there – which is exactly why young people love to jump in the water.

Then there was the decision by someone, I wish I knew who, to have the bicycle path cut right across the base of the ramp. Cyclists, roller bladers and the odd pedestrian who chose to ignore a "Stop" sign, or get otherwise distracted, run the risk of getting clipped.

I can tell you there's enough people doing different things in this small piece of waterfront geography that the chances of a collision are significant – maybe even tragic.

Swimmers are more focused on having fun, and quite often object to having to exit the water while a boater launches or retrieves their vessel, to pay more attention to their surroundings.

Those using the bike path are quite often enamored with the scenery, avoiding the aforementioned goose poop, loose rocks and the scourge of jet-propelled e-bikes to account for swimmers or motorists.

Finally the boaters are trying to back not one, but two, vehicles into a small space, ensuring their rig is lined up properly, while also listening for cues from passengers – not to mention avoiding swimmers, cyclists and the odd pedestrian.

It's not as bad as the Wal-Mart parking lot, but it's pretty damn close.

Some increased enforcement by Cornwall police, and maybe the odd ticket for mom  and dad, would probably be enough to deter tweens from swimming there. Heck, it's only a few kilometres downstream from a hydro electric dam and you couldn’t pay me to swim in such a torrent of water.

I would also lobby for the inclusion of some kind of barrier on the bike path that would force cyclists, roller bladers and others to slow down before screaming past the stop sign. You will often find such barriers along the bike path at other intersections, where people are forced to carefully negotiate a set of bars, or even dismount and walk their bike through.

And finally boaters need to take a breath and realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Yes, you have a beautiful machine you have every right to enjoy, but I can tell you a boat ramp often becomes a hub of activity for those who aren’t fortunate enough to head out on the water.

Sometimes just watching the boats is enough.

The fact is, if none of these things happen there will continue to be problems at the boat launch. One of these days a bike is going to clip a boat, swimmer or a combination of the two and someone is going to get seriously hurt. Because water is involved the possibility of a drowning is a threat.

Until something is done, my wife and I have found a nice secluded ramp that nearly no one uses. I'm keeping its location a secret.

Organizations: Royal Canadian Air Force Association, Wal-Mart

Geographic location: Cornwall, Lamoureux Park, Eastern Ontario New York State

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  • Sharon Nicholson
    June 12, 2014 - 11:50

    Good for you Todd to finally point it out. We have on many occasions, almost hit kids jumping off the dock or cyclists crossing the ramp. A couple of weeks ago, we had a child almost jump into our boat. He was running and wanted to jump off the dock and I had to yell at him. Not a great place for the bike path or the dock. We have since paid for a slip in a marina to avoid all the hassles that go along with trying to launch a boat in that location.