Lake Country society raising money to dredge the Oyama canal sooner rather than later | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Lake Country society raising money to dredge the Oyama canal sooner rather than later

The Oyama Canal.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Tween Lakes Resort

In spite of concerns raised at a recent District of Lake Country strategy meeting on the possible dredging of the Oyama canal between Wood and Kalamalka lakes, a community effort is well on its way to making that happen.

Andrew Spear has been working for years to get the canal dredged. He actually has an application for the work pending with the provincial government and is creating the Oyama Far Society to fund the work and maintain the canal far into the future.

He took exception to the fact that Lake Country decided to hold the strategy session earlier this month in response to his efforts but he was not invited to the meeting.

“That’s the sad part,” Spear told iNFOnews.ca. “They’re only looking into this matter because I’m the one who created this. Now, at the end of the day, the facts aren’t laid out correctly and we’re way ahead of them. I have a lot of invested time in this and it would have been nice for them to say: ‘Where did you start? Where are you at? Who have you spoken to and how do you feel about where this is going?’ Maybe we could have all gained some information from each other.”

He has since met with Mayor James Baker at the canal to bring him up to speed on his efforts.

At the council meeting, elected officials were told it could take three years just to get permits in place to do the work and that sediments dredged from the channel could contaminate both lakes.

READ MORE: Dredging this Lake Country channel could stir up more trouble than it's worth

They were not told that, in April 2019, Spear filed an application to have the canal dredged and is expecting it to be approved in January.

He wants to file a second application in order to continue to work on the channel each year to make sure it’s not only deep enough for recreational use but to “clean and keep control of the annual maintenance that needs to be done. To keep track of the water level and depths of the sediments and things like that, so that we can be cost-effective with managing the canal.”

Tween Lakes Resort will also be filing an application to rebuild its retaining wall and enlarge its marina, Spear said.

“At the end of the day, the District of Lake Country is going around spinning their tires in circles, coming up with strategy plans, when I’m 144 days away from getting my application approved,” Spear said.

He said he has the backing of Tween Lakes Resort, other local businesses who value an open channel between the lakes and a District councillor.

The canal was created in 1908 to get lumber and fruit from one lake to another. At the time, Wood Lake was about four feet higher than Kalamalka Lake and connected by a creek.

It was originally a federal waterway that was supposed to be maintained by the federal government which, Spear said, have delegated authority for the canal to Lake Country.

READ MORE: The history of Oyama's isthmus shows it's far from untouched

He plans to have an engineer look at the bridge over the canal to make sure it won’t be impacted and he’ll be meeting with First Nations as well.

Spear is not directly affected by what happens in the canal, other than being a concerned citizen who doesn’t actually live on either of the lakes.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid on holidays and I moved my family up here five years ago,” he said. “We love going out on the lake. That was a huge thing of my childhood. Going through that canal was always an awesome thing that I always remembered. To see the canal go from eight feet deep to six, seven inches is absolutely appalling.”

Spear also objected to suggestions, made at the strategy meeting, that it will cost anywhere from $500,000 to more than $2 million do dredge the canal.

“It’s not going to cost more than $120,000,” he said. “That’s what we’ve budgeted for.”

The Oyama Far Society is expected to be officially launched this week to not only raise money for the initial dredging but to “clean and keep control of the annual maintenance that needs to be done. To keep track of the water level and depths of the sediments and things like that, so that we can be cost-effective with managing the canal," Spear said.

Anyone wanting donate can email Spear at spear8313@gmail.com.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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