Wet start to tourist season

Chelsea Powrie

Blue skies and warm weather were more cause for concern than celebration in Osoyoos today, with flood worries looming and the unofficial start to the tourist season coming this weekend. 

The May long weekend typically kicks off the busy season in town, and with 53 properties under evacuation order and widespread flooding along the lakeshore, Mayor Sue McKortoff said the town has been fielding alarmed calls from would-be visitors.

"People that normally come up here are concerned about whether they should come up," McKortoff said. "Absolutely they need to [rethink] what they were planning to do when they were up here."

That's because some popular activities won't be possible due to flooding, like a day at the beach, as much of the lakeshore is underwater, or going out on a boat, as marinas and boat launches are closed.

"There's no point bringing your boat up here," McKortoff said. "But it's like when it rains in Vanocuver, isn't it? You find other things to do."

She pointed to the fact that golf courses and wineries are open as proof there's still plenty for tourists to experience in Osoyoos. 

Meanwhile, sandbagging, with help from Osoyoos fire crews, is ongoing in town in preparation for another potential rise in lake levels.

A volunteer sandbagging coordinator said she wasn't concerned about the impact floods may have on tourism season, based on the experiences she has already had with tourists at the main sandbagging site.

"We've had a girls soccer team that came out for the weekend and they came and sandbagged for three hours at least," said Vanessa Kriese. "People that are just driving through town to go camping have stopped for an hour or two so I think even the tourists would just come and help as well."

While the flooding situation in town is stable for the moment, Similkameen River flows are rising which should start to block Osoyoos Lake outflows in the coming days.

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