THUNDER BAY — Anyone who's ever struggled to get into a kayak without tipping it over or falling into the water will appreciate what's been installed at the Hazelwood Lake Conservation Area north of the city.
Already one of the most popular paddling sites near Thunder Bay, it may attract even more people now that a new kayak launch is available.
The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority recently put into service a floating dock with an attached launch that that makes entering and exiting more convenient by keeping the craft stable throughout the process.
"Essentially you're in the water but you're being supported by the bottom of this launch, so it allows you to get in and out of your kayak with much more ease, and there's almost no risk of tipping," said Ryan Mackett, communications manager for the conservation authority.
"And then there's notches in the top of it that allow you to use your oar to pull yourself forward out of the dock and into the water itself."
Mackett said the launch, which is made from a heavy-duty composite plastic material, is particularly helpful for people with mobility issues.
"It's essentially branded as an accessible launch, so that's really removing some barriers for people who otherwise might have to rely on assistance to be able to go paddle at Hazelwood."
On the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority's Facebook page, one recent user has commented "What a smooth launch...loved it. We need more of these docks everywhere."
The conservation authority already had a floating dock with an attached kayak launch at Hurkett Cove, and depending on funding will consider an installation next year at the Little Trout Bay Conservation Area.
Mackett said the purchase of Explore Cards for $40 enables the LRCA to make improvements such as this at its various conservation sites.
The card provides access to all 10 locations for one calendar year, and should be placed where it is visible through the vehicle windshield.
Alternatively, day users are asked to deposit $5 per vehicle in the coin boxes that are set up at each conservation area.