File photo: Wayne Moore-Castanet
File photo: Wayne Moore-Castanet

Action needed on Okanagan Lake

by - Story: 60266

The recent fire that destroyed a houseboat in Sutherland Bay also again raised the issue of unregulated moorage on Okanagan Lake.

Heather Rice, the President of the North End Residents Association continues to be frustrated with the inability of all levels of government to deal with the issue.

"There's a number of jurisdictions involved with regulating the lake, but I figure with Kelowna being the largest city in the valley, and the one that has the impact on the valley as far as the use of the lake that they, along with the Regional District, should take the lead and really make this a priority." says Rice.

She would also like to see more input from the federal level as well.

"Its a municipal issue, but its overseen mostly by the feds. I believe it's time they get involved with (Kelowna-Lake Country MP) Ron Cannan to figure out what we're going to do. It's an issue all across Canada and it's time for the feds to take a look at their laws and revamp them so municipalities have control over their area."

NERA is not simply concerned about the visual impact these houseboats have.

They recently commissioned a water quality study which found leaking fuel, oil and human waste is having a negative impact on the environment. Plus the city's water intake is nearby and Rice is worried how the pollution will affect the water supply.

"Its a combination of issues in Sutherland Bay because there's very little water movement with the log boom in place, and then you have heavy use with boats using that tiny boat launch there, and then there's accidents as well." says Rice.

"We did have a small accident this summer. One of the barges had a leak which went right into the bay and had to be cleaned up. With no regulation, my concern is that it's going to become a huge problem."

With multiple jurisdictions on the lake, it has become difficult to determine how to take action against the problem.

"They have a bit of a city lot right in Sutherland Bay, so they are able to manage that area, but the houseboats will anchor just outside that area. Some new boats who aren't aware will moor inside that area, and we'll let by-laws know about those issues but they're very slow to react." Rice says.

It's her hope that by continuing to lobby all parties involved, something can be done before an environmental disaster strikes.

"I'm just very concerned for the lake itself. It's going to become a huge issue as we get more and more people moving into the valley and we don't have enough moorage, so people will begin mooring wherever they want once they realize there is no regulation where they can and cannot moor."

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