May 20, 2015 - 5:00 AM
SHUSWAP - Proposed regulations could mean the end for motorized boats on much of the Shuswap River.
The reasoning behind the proposal is environmental degradation and the safety of other river users, such as tubers, swimmers and kayakers, says the North Okanagan Regional District’s sustainability coordinator Anna Page.
The proposed regulations would ban motorized boats on the Lower Shuswap River from Baxter Bridge upstream to the eastern end of Skookumchuk Rapids Park and on the Mid Shuswap River from South Mabel Lake to the Shuswap Falls, and allow only 10 horse power and under engines from Mara Lake to Baxter Bridge. There are currently no boating regulations anywhere on the river.
“(The proposal) is in response to community concerns,” Page says. “Over the last number of years, the board has heard from community groups and individuals with concerns with respect to motorized boats on the river.”
Among the concerns are bank erosion caused by the wakes left behind by boats and the disturbance to salmon spawning grounds and other fish and wildlife habitats, Page says. There’s also the safety issue of motorized boats and the risk of collisions with other river users.
“In speaking with people who spend time on the river they feel there’s a high risk of that happening,” Page says.
The environmental and public safety concerns were underscored in the new Shuswap River Watershed Sustainability Plan, and through the work of two UBCO students who studied the river in the summers of 2013 and 2014.
Boating regulations are common throughout B.C. and any level of government can ask Transport Canada to restrict the use of vessels on bodies of water to help achieve safety, environmental or public interest objectives, Page says.
What will follow over the next four months is public consultation in the form of open houses and a survey.
“We’re wanting to find out how people feel about the plan, whether they’re supportive or not,” Page says.
The proposal is a joint venture between the North Okanagan Regional District, Vernon Protective Services Safe Communities Unit, Lower Shuswap Stewardship Society, Enderby and District Service Commission, Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce and the City of Enderby.
Two open houses are set for the second week of June, the first at the Enderby Drill Hall, June 10 from 5-7:30 p.m. and the second at Mabel Lake Hall (Lumby end) June 11 from 5-7:30 p.m.
Surveys can be completed online and will also be mailed to all property owners adjoining the river in the affected areas. The surveys, maps of the zones and additional information can be found here.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015