HORSHAM council will revisit the possibility of skiing on the Wimmera River outside the city’s Kannamaroo festival.
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority ran a trial last year to assess the suitability, effects and sustainability of controlled skiing on the river in Horsham.
The authority was satisfied with the overall risk level for skiing in the Horsham Weir Pool, but identified some areas where there was a greater risk of erosion on the river banks.
Natimuk Ski Club – which has run skiing demonstrations for Kannamaroo since 2012 – presented a proposal to council earlier this year outlining how skiing could be done in other months of the year.
Council will start a three-phase consultation process at this year’s festival on November 27 and 28 to consider whether to allow regular skiing.
Council’s technical services director John Martin presented the consultation proposal to council last week.
He said the first step was to gauge feedback about boat noise, traffic on adjoining streets, and river bank use at Kannamaroo.
“If council decides to further consider skiing based on the first phase of consultation, a second stage will be conducted to determine the framework within which it might proceed,” he said.
“This will involve a targeted approach of engagement with key stakeholders including key users, skiing group representatives, other river user groups, and Wimmera Catchment Management Authority.”
Mr Martin said the framework would be made public for people to comment on. Council hopes to complete this by April 2016.
The third step – once a framework agreement is finalised – is to formally change river use rules through Transport Safety Victoria.
Mr Martin said he hoped the three-stage process would be completed by August next year.
Cr Heather Phillips questioned why there was another consultation process.
“I was of the understanding we did most of the research on this last year?” she said.
“I thought we were moving to running a trial period?
“My concern here is seeing the timeframe – the aim to complete the framework by April 2016.
“We have actually lost the whole summer in terms of recreational water use.”
Mr Martin said council initially started consultation about reintroducing skiing in 2012, at the end of the drought.
“We did a letter drop to all the houses fronting the river in that area,” he said.
“The comments were largely supportive in response to the Kannamaroo event, but a lot of the comments had conditions on them, such as the time of use and noise levels.
“Something we haven’t done is asked the community about their broad views for long-term skiing, and that’s what this is about.”
Cr Phillips said a longer trial period during the summer would be more beneficial.
“Kannamaroo will give a totally different impression to just a regular usage pattern,” she said.
Councillors agreed to implement the proposed consultation plan.
Natimuk Ski Club is considering introducing a slalom ski display for Kannamaroo this year.
Mr Martin said council would consider slalom style as part of the proposal for regular river skiing.