PENTICTON - A group of Penticton residents staged a rally in front of Penticton City Hall to voice their objection to an element of the SS Sicamous Area Master Plan.
Gerry Gilligan fronted the rally, attended by approximately 30 citizens. They were objecting to a part of the plan that would see five to seven large boat slips constructed for day use on the jetty near the SS Sicamous.
“A lot of people in town don’t want to see this happen,” said Gilligan, who said he had 250 signatures on a petition protesting the move, with more signing up. “It’s a quiet spot - we kayak and bird watch. There are beavers there. It’s a fantastic place. Motorboats would destroy the ambience of the area."
Gilligan said a better choice would be to locate boat moorage on the Kiwanis Walking Pier, located at the other end of Okanagan Lake Beach. He said the pier is presently underutilized.
“We don’t want boats down by the Sicamous,” said Lila Parsons, who held up a sign that read, No boat moorage. “Leave it alone. Leave it for families and tourists."
Council’s dealings with the SS Sicamous Master Plan Monday, April 20, involved a public hearing to incorporate it into the Official Community Plan.
City of Penticton Director of Operations Mitch Moroziuk presented an overview and history of the plan, noting extensive public consultation had gone into planning the project. He identified day moorage as a key issue in the plan, saying the community offered differing views on the issue, from favouring lots of boats, to others favouring no boats at all.
He said providing limited moorage space would separate water usage in the area, provide better control to prevent boats coming to the beach, as they did now, and offer limited environmental risk.
A full house was on hand Monday night to both support and contest the staff report. Gerry Gilligan was first to plead with council not to move forward with day moorage plans and he was followed by several people in support of the plan and several more who were against aspects of the plan.
LocoLanding owner Diana Stirling supported all aspects of the master plan, saying day moorage would provide a boost to businesses in the area. A list of several motels and resorts on Lakeshore Drive who were in favour of day moorage at the SS Sicamous was also provided to council.
SS Sicamous Society President Jim Cooper supported day moorage, noting historical boat moorage in the area. He said locating the dock on the jetty would provide adequate separation from swimming and other water uses in the area. He said an informal survey of day moorage in other Lake Okanagan municipalities found a large number of day moorage slips in those communities.
Former Penticton Mayor Jake Kimberley suggested the moorage should be restricted to heritage boats, in keeping with the SS Sicamous’ heritage aspect. He asked council to consider building a wharf-like structure around the SS Sicamous, rather than the plaza envisioned in the master plan, saying it would present the paddle wheeler in a more lifelike setting.
In the end councillors Max Picton, Helena Konanz and Judy Sentes favoured moorage, citing increased economic opportunities and low chance of negative environmental impact from a potential seven slip dock, and the SS Sicamous Area Master Plan was adopted into the Official Community Plan.
While the city incurs no direct costs with the decision, each phase of the project will now be brought forward to council during budget deliberations with funding sources identified.
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