West Kelowna  

IHA Medical Health Officer Paul Hasselback. (File Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet)
IHA Medical Health Officer Paul Hasselback. (File Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet)

IHA weighs in on watershed dispute

by - Story: 48037

Interior Health's medical health officer has weighed in on the dispute over whether motorized vehicles should be allowed within the Lambly Creek and Powers Creek watersheds.

In a letter to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Paul Hasselback, blames both the ministry and the Okanagan Trail Riders Association (OTRA) for directional signs placed within 10 feet of Bald Range Creek.

"The signs bore the Okanagan Trail Riders Association insignia. As the MTCA is the recreational manager for this recreation site and has entered into a land use agreement with the OTRA, we expect MTCA shares responsibility for this signage," says Hasselback in the letter.

The OTRA and West Kelowna water purveyors Lakeview Irrigation and Westbank Irrigation have been at odds over the use of motorized vehicles within the watershed.

While the ministry entered into a stewardship agreement with the OTRA for the recreational area, Hasselback says the province has not stepped up to the plate.

"To date, the MTCA has not provided a concept plan, GIS mapping, operations plan or monitoring plan that clearly demonstrates how drinking water hazards arising from the Bear Creek Recreation Site will be mitigated."

Hasselback says a draft source assessment of the watershed completed by LID's consultant identified that motorized recreation has a high risk of "sediment delivery to the stream," and a "very high risk for bacterial, viral and parasite loading to the stream."

"Protection of drinking water sources, a valuable resource, is critical in assisting water suppliers to provide clean, affordable water to the residents and visitors in the Okanagan Valley."

West Kelowna Council discussed the letter during a presentation by LID and WID consultant Don Dobson Tuesday.

Dobson says, while allowing motorized vehicles into the watershed is not ideal, LID and WID are willing to work with the OTRA.

"We want something everyone can enjoy, and have safe drinking water too," says Dobson.

"There is a compromise out there that won't satisfy everyone, but is doable."

He adds that while OTRA is spending $100,000 to construct 70 to 90 km of new trails in 2009, they have yet to see a strategic plan.

Last month, responding to criticism from West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, the OTRA says a bridge over Bald Range Creek would solve a lot of issues in the area.

Officials say LID backed away from an agreement that would have seen such a bridge constructed.

That allegation was refuted by Dobson.

"There was no such agreement. We looked at the site with the OTRA. We said we would not agree to a crossing unless the club had a sustainable trail system leading from the lower staging are to the upper staging area."

West Kelowna Council agreed to invite representative from the provincial ministry to meet with them in an effort to pass on municipal concerns.

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