Sailing club hopes freeze will keep club alive

By William Stodalka

Updated 1 hour ago

Recently, the Cold Lake Sailing Club wrote Cold Lake city council asking them to put a freeze on the number of sailboats presently within the marina.

Sailing Club Vice-President Jim Belliveau and Commodore Joyce Foreman said that this appeal is meant to help preserve the organization, which has been around for four decades.

Belliveau noted that since the 1970s, Cold Lake has had organized sailboating. At the time, only about four or five sailboats raced each other, but did not have a marina in which to dock.

In the 1980s, an organization called Friends of the Cold Lake Marina (which later willed its resources to the Sailing Club) pushed successfully to turn a simple fuel dock into a multi-boat marina.

Since then, sailing has become something of a trademark in town, replacing the fishing that used to be the towns trademark.

Since the creation of the Marina, the Club has also helped with tours for citizens of Cold Lake’s sister city in Germany, held regular Wednesday night races that at one time attracted upwards of 40 people, and helped teach Cold Lakers to sail boats.

Two gigantic sails mark the entrance into town, and many local businesses and the Cold Lake Chamber of Commerce have adopted sails for their logos.

The nickname used in promotional materials for Cold Lake is also “the City of Sails.”

From 1999 to 2002, the Sailing Club experienced something of a high point, with 33 sailboats with spaces a t the marina.

But since then, interest has dropped as more and more Cold Lakers have turned to motorboats to have some fun on the lake.

Now, the number of Wednesday night racing participants has dropped to only about five to seven people, and only 14 people have sailboats docked in the marina.

“We see our slips as being a springboard that allow us to be a sports organization,” said Belliveau.

“It’s the same as you can’t play hockey in the community if you don’t have a hockey rink.”

“My personal feeling is any recreational sport is going to die if you can’t access it readily,” added Foreman.

Belliveau said that the process of launching a sailboat can be very cumbersome, often requiring one hour each to put it in and take it out.

Getting a sailboat out from the marina would only take about five minutes, he added.

Belliveau also felt that sailing justified its spots at the marina because it offered more aesthetic benefits.

“When you’re trying to sell your house and you’re trying to justify a $1.7 million price tag, what do you think’s going to clinch the deal when you look out the window to the sea – a jet ski, or a sailboat?” asked Belliveau.

Unlike motorboat users, Belliveau believed sailboating was more social than powerboating, which he believed was much more individual.

“If there are two sailboats on the lake, chances are they’ll run into each other, and there’s going to be a race,” he said.

And Belliveau believed the sport was often misperceived.

“[Some people] see sailboat thing as a very elitist kind of thing, but the thing is we’re normal people,” he said.

When asked about motorboat riders who may be disappointed that they would not be able to have a spot put in, Belliveau said that they should keep in mind that there would still be 236 spots available on the marina.

“When we’re trying to hold fast on them and there’s only one sailboat [on the marina waiting list] it’s hardly what I would call an imposition,” he added.

Council has yet to make a decision about which way it would like to proceed.

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