Concern for birds behind opposition to campground on Vaseux Lake in South Okanagan

The Vaseux Lake Stewarship Association has launched a petition opposing an Agricultural Land Reserve request to exclude a portion of the lake's east shoreline in order to develop a campground.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Ruthpc48

A local stewardship group is fighting a plan to remove land on Vaseux Lake in the South Okanagan from the Agricultural Land Reserve in an effort to protect a bird sanctuary.

The Vaseux Lake Stewardship Association is gathering signatures with an online petition to express opposition to a proposal to exclude a portion of the lake’s shoreline from the ALR.

The petition is seeking 1,500 signatures and at last check today, May 12, the association had almost reached its goal.

The group is opposed to plans to develop a 35-site campground on 1.2 hectares of land on the eastern shore of Vaseux Lake. It argues the lake is a bird sanctuary that has been a protected area for more than 80 years. It says removal of the land from the ALR would increase stress on birds that reside and use the lake as a migratory stop throughout the year.

Other negative effects of the proposal noted by the stewardship association include increased disturbance of the riparian habitat, increased traffic congestion, loss of lake aesthetics and loss of good agricultural land.

Agricultural Land Commission documents show the application for exclusion of the property was made by Ecora Engineering in February. The land presently contains a vineyard and includes a winery and tasting room. Surrounding land use is made up of recreational and conservation lands.

The applicant says the property was historically a campground, and when the property was purchased in 2006, 1.7 ha was zoned for campground use. The original intention was to develop the farmland and use the waterfront for a non-farm use, such as residential or tourist commercial.

According to a regional district board report, a 36-unit rustic campground was established on the site in 1965. It is believed to have ceased operations between 20 and 30 years ago. 

The new campground is intended to compliment the existing winery business on the site.

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