"IT'S JUST NOT GOING TO BE SAFE."
KELOWNA – Manteo’s new dock next to Rotary Beach has local kiteboarders concerned for their safety.
The dock, which is being built by Manteo Resort, appears to be several hundred feet long, stretching from the beach into the water.
Clayton Arnall and Marc Brillinger are kiteboarders who say it is too big and too close.
“When you look at the plans, it doesn’t look like that big of a deal, but when you’re standing on Rotary Beach, it’s right there and it’s big,” Arnall says. “That’s the problem we have. We’re not allowed in swim zones but we need to go off a beach. Rotary is the only beach that has an area we are allowed to launch from and now there’s a huge dock in the way.”
The City of Kelowna’s website touts Rotary Beach as being “known for its kiteboarding and windsurfing,” but the enormous dock may soon change that.
Arnall lives nearby and says he visits Rotary Beach almost every day during the summer. He acknowledges that the dock is on private land, but takes issue with the size and proximity to a public beach.
On a busy summer day, Brillinger says as many as 30 kiteboarders will use the narrow strip of beach. With power lines and trees nearby, the entry was always considered challenging, and the large dock will likely make it even more dangerous.
“It’s just not going to be safe,” Arnall says. “If you mess up your launch, you put your kite right into the power lines.”
While concerned for the safety of their fellow kiteboarders, Arnall and Brillinger say their biggest concern is for the trend they see developing. With large resorts taking up most of the Okanagan Lake beachfront, they worry that the needs of the majority are being negated by the wants of local businesses.
“It completely ruins the aesthetic of that beach, in my opinion,” says Brillinger. “As a beach-user, I’m wondering what’s going on. There can be several hundred people on that beach in the summer, they’re not all staying at Manteo, and they have to look at that massive dock.”
“There are not enough public beaches already and they’re being wrecked by all these huge hotels,” Arnall says. “I think they should put the needs of the community ahead of corporations.”
“It does have some impact on kiteboarders,” Brillinger says, “but the real issue is this seems like another extraction of public space for private use.”
Jurisdiction for docks falls under the umbrella of the provincial Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resources. The approval process, often conducted behind closed doors, is normally complicated and time consuming. Arnall and Brillinger say the pilings went in so quickly there was no opportunity for them to voice concerns of any kind, despite the obvious impact it will have on the public.
“It seems like there’s really nothing we can do about it at this point,” Arnall says. “Maybe the province doesn’t care about Rotary beach.”
Numerous calls to Manteo Resort and the Minsitry were not returned.
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