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Video: Councillor sees recreation opportunities on Neebing River

City councillor Brian Hamilton wants the city to consider opening recreation opportunities on the Neebing River.

THUNDER BAY – A Thunder Bay city councillor wants to see local residents make greater use of a local waterway he says could be a hidden recreational gem.

Coun. Brian Hamilton is calling for a report on the possibility of adding a boat launch on the Neebing River for small watercraft like kayaks and canoes, within the city. If his colleagues on city council approve the request, city administration will be directed to return with a report by May of 2022.

The McKellar Ward councillor said he became interested in the possibility after paddling down the river himself earlier this year.

“I’m not sure if a lot of Thunder Bay even knows about the beauty and the majesty of the Neebing River,” he said. “It’s teeming with wildlife, it’s beautiful at multiple times of the year… I think when people discover the Neebing River, they’ll find they have an absolute treasure right in their backyards.”

Hamilton pointed to a rise in kayaking, paddle boarding, and other water sports in recent years, and said people are increasingly looking for outdoor activities close to home. He believes those are lacking in the south core.

“More and more, especially with talk of climate change, people are really looking to explore their backyards, things that are right in their neighbourhoods that they can walk [or] bicycle to,” he said.

Hamilton hopes recreation and conservation can go hand in hand, saying if people have the chance to connect with the waterway, they’re more likely to be invested in protecting it.

The report from city administration would clarify who’s responsible for river use and maintenance, including issues like tree cutting and garbage along the riverbank.

“What I’m really asking on Monday night is to define the jurisdictional authority, whether it be the [Lakehead Region Conservation Authority], private, or the city, and how we can enhance the Neebing River as a recreational amenity in this neighbourhood.”

The report will include that information, along with potential locations and cost estimates for boat launches. It is due back to city council by May 2.

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