August 24, 2013 - 7:00 AM
"YOU CAN BE IN IT, ON IT, OR AROUND IT, AND IT BRINGS YOU SUCH JOY"
VERNON - With its azure blue waters cradled on either side by long mountain ranges, there's no question Kalamalka Lake is one of the most stunning places in the country. But is it the greatest?
The online, vote-driven Great Places in Canada contest, hosted by the Canadian Institute of Planners, will put Kal Lake to the test against locations like Victoria's Inner Harbour, the Rideau Canal, and the Blanchett Islands in Great Slave Lake.
Kalamalka Lake has the vote of Coldstream councillor Maria Besso, who is also involved in the Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake (SPrKL).
"There's just something about the lake. All lakes are special, but Kal with its azure blue colour and its location in the middle of all these mountains, it's so picturesque and gorgeous," Besso says.
The lake has won the affection of many residents, with numerous groups rising up to defend it from environmental degradation. The Oceola Fish and Game Club, a conservation group in Lake Country, the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Partnership, and the Okanagan Basin Water Board, and of course SPrKL all work in different ways to keep Kal Lake the treasure it is.
Besso says the lake—and wildlife it supports—is threatened by agricultural and storm drain runoff, leaching from nearby garbage dumps, shoreline development and disturbance from motorized water crafts on the water. Zebra and quagga mussels threaten another potential environmental blow.
With Greater Vernon drawing 80 per cent of its fresh water from the lake, Besso says it's just one more great reason to keep it clean.
Some of the shoreline around the lake is protected in a provincial park, and other areas are too rocky for building, but there's certainly concern that the stunning views will attract developers and tarnish the natural beauty of the lake.
"You look at Osoyoos and Skaha, and they're overdeveloped. You had this beautiful lake that everyone wanted to enjoy, but then there's no natural shoreline or habitat for animals and you lose that beauty."
Besso has lived all across Canada and while living in Calgary she took vacations in Vernon.
"I stopped at Kal lookout and thought, I'm going to live here."
Twenty years ago, she fulfilled her dream and now calls the area around Kalamalka Lake her home.
"I think it truly is Canada's greatest gem," she says. "It's accessible to everyone. You can be in it, on it, or around it and it brings you such joy."
Upcoming events at the lake:
SPrKL is organizing its second annual spirit paddle from Kal Beach to Rattlesnake point September 2 at 10 a.m. Non-motorized water crafts are invited to partake in a celebration of beautiful Kalamalka Lake.
Naish &Kalavida Surf Shop are holding the fourth annual Kalamalka Classic Stand Up Paddle Festival from August 30- September 1. Some proceeds will go to SPrKL.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
(JENNIFER STAHN /InfoTel Multimedia)
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013