Okanagan man wants to improve Oyama Canal, can't get government approval

Canal filled with red tape

Andrew Spear has a plan to improve the canal between Wood and Kal lakes, he just needs government approval.

And that is not as easy as it sounds.

Spear has been working for the past two years to have the canal dredged, and has even developed an environmentally friendly plan to do it, but he has been bogged down in government red tape.

“The Oyama Canal is a navigable water way sanctioned under the federal government. Thus we as boaters should have the right of safe passage through the canal,” he said noting the canal is as shallow as eight inches deep in spots.

Spear pointed out the outflow at the north of the Kal Lake in Coldstream was dredged by officials earlier this year and he feels the canal should be managed in the same way.

“We as boaters should have the right of safe passage through the canal. The Oyama Canal was actively dredged annually until 1998 when funding stopped,” said Spear.

“Most concerning is that Oyama gets its drinking water from the Kalamalka side of the canal. Every time a boat goes through in the shallow water, it is stirring up the silt which in turn goes into the taps of the residents of Oyama.”

Spear said watercraft can be damaged using the canal.

Spear has crowdfunded to raise money to have the silt removed with the blessing of Tween lakes Resort and Camp Hatikvah, which sit on either side of the canal.

Spear hired an environmental consultant for guidance and has a company lined up to do hydro-vac dredging, which would have the least amount of environmental impact.

“They will park a truck on top of the bridge and just vacuum the silt and dirt out,” he said.

So now all Spear needs is government approval.

“It is just ping-ponging back and forth off people's desks,” he said, adding he was told government lawyers are on the case and are trying to determine who owns the canal the Crown or the two resorts.

Spear is asking people contact their local elected officials to express support for the dredging plan.

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