September 06, 2013 - 8:30 AM
KELOWNA – Okanagan Lake should be a bit safer for boaters caught in stormy weather thanks to money from the federal government.
Rebuilding of the Okanagan Centre Safe Harbour can now be completed with a federal investment of $150,000. It will fund Lake Country's reconstruction of decaying breakwaters in the harbour – which Central Okanagan Regional District board chair Robert Hobson says is one of few safe havens for boaters when the weather turns suddenly and unexpectedly.
“It's really the only place of refuge for people from Okanagan Landing down to Kelowna,” Hobson says.
In the last three years Lake Country has made a number of upgrades to the harbour, building a new pad for the popular boat launch, a viewing platform, courtesy dock as well as rebuilding the south breakwater.
District spokesperson Bruce Smith says they'll now be fixing the remaing structure using steal and concrete.
“What we're going to do now is the most seriously damaged sections first for the north breakwater.”
Built with untreated wood back in the 1970's, the existing breakwater has badly deteriorated over the years.
“It's amazing it's lasted as long as it has but it's seriously rotted... It's desperately in need of being fixed,” Smith says.
Minister of western economic diversification Michelle Rempel joined Lake Country MP Ron Cannan in announcing the funds this afternoon. Rempel says the Community Infrastructure Improvement fund is meant to create "a legacy of safe and modern infrastructure," benefitting all users of the lake for years to come.
“As a Calgarian who's a very frequent visitor to your community, I wish you all the best as this project takes place,” Rempel says.
Statistics show Okanagan Lake has the most yearly fatalities of any lake in B.C., partly due to weather conditions and unsafe boating practices.
Construction of new breakwaters will begin in the spring of next year.
The decaying wood breakwater in the background
(JULIE WHITTET /InfoTel Multimedia)
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013