April 21, 2015 - 7:30 PM
VERNON - If you’re a waterfront property owner who’s ever built a dock on the lake, a B.C. Supreme Court Judge says you need a permit for that.
It’s a rule cottage owner Laurent Desautels didn’t know about in March 2013, when he hired Okanagan Pile Driving Inc. to install piles into Okanagan Lake as part of dock construction. The piles were being put into the lake bed below the high-water mark, which is considered aquatic Crown land. Ministry of Forests resource officer Daniel Krywonos happened to be patrolling the area by boat that day, and issued Desautels a $230 ticket for not having a permit.
Desautels' dispute was dismissed by a judge in August 2014, but the Crown appealed that decision. Now, a different judge has upheld the violation ticket, stating Desautels made changes to the lake contrary to the Water Act.
Desautels admitted to hiring workers to pound piles into the lakebed, and was open about not having a permit. He told the court he did not know one was required, and said it was his belief that none of his neighbours obtained or required permits prior to the construction of their piers.
In an email, public affairs officer Greig Bethel said information is available to the public in a number of ways. He pointed out a webpage with general information, and said a brochure is available at FrontCounter B.C. offices throughout the Okanagan.
It is unknown how often people are fined for not having a permit for dock construction, or how much time resource officers spend patrolling lakes to enforce the particular law. Infonews.ca requested an interview with the ministry for answers to these questions, but instead received the following statement by email:
“The ministry is working to update the policy so that it is fair and works for various types of property owners. We recognize there are different types of unauthorized docks/structures on different types of upland waterfront properties, including Okanagan Lake. It is a complex issue, and we’re taking the time to get it right.”
You can read the full court judgement here.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015