West Kelowna  

Last day for houseboats to vacate bay

About a half dozen houseboat owners may be heading for a confrontation with the District of West Kelowna.

The owners of houseboats and other boats illegally moored in Gellatly Bay were given notice at the end of June to move their vessels within 30 days or have them towed away.

The 30 day window ends Thursday.

While several houseboats have been moved, about a half dozen remain moored in the bay.

"We're still hoping for voluntary compliance," says West Kelowna Communications Director, Kirsten Jones.

"We're hoping they will do the right thing."

Late last month, the municipality received a License of Occupation from the provincial government for the portion of Gellatly Bay abutting its property.

The municipality served all vessel owners illegally moored in the bay notice they had to remove their vessels within 30 days, effective June 29.

Jones says the municipality was able to locate the owners of every vessel. Notices of eviction were mailed to each owner while a copy was posted on each vessel.

Vessels not moved by Thursday will be towed and stored for 30 days, after which, if the vessels are still unclaimed, the towing company will be free to take action to recover its costs of towing and storage.

Houseboats started arriving at Gellatly Bay in the summer of 2008, about the same time Shelter Bay Marina evicted all its houseboats.

That was October 31 of 2008, a few months after the City of Kelowna was successful in removing a number of houseboats from Sutherland Bay.

Since that time, West Kelowna has been working on ways to get ownership of the water to have the boats removed.

It appears many of the vessels which have left Gellatly Bay have moved back to Sutherland Bay.

Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd says those boats have and will continue to be removed.

"We have jurisdiction over a part of Sutherland Bay and we will continue enforcing where we have jurisdiction," says Shepherd.

"I know there has already been some enforcement that has taken place over the last couple of months so staff will continue to do that."

The city has limited jurisdiction in Sutherland Bay and vessels who drop anchor outside the jurisdictional zone are far more than just an eyesore for Shepherd.

"I think it's a safety issue and also the ability of Tolko to continue its operation. They have the need to go back and forth across the lake and that I think has to be taken into account. That would probably be the responsibility of the Federal Government to respond."

While the City of Kelowna will continue removing houseboats from Sutherland Bay as it has in the past, Shepherd says it's time the region began serious discussions about what to do with houseboats over the long term.

"We need to do an analysis of whether we have the ability to find houseboat locations anywhere, where should they be and how should they be managed."

Shepherd says there is a committee at the Regional District that oversees marine issues.

She says they will be getting together in the next couple of weeks to begin discussing the many issues surrounding Okanagan Lake.

In the meantime, vessels with no place to call home continue to be unwanted eyesores for neighbours and visitors alike and will continue to be moved to the next moorage spot.

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