By Charlotte Helston
The hundreds of hours Kim Nasipayko spent calling and emailing government officials, walking door to door in her neighbourhood, researching, and worrying about the fate of South Bay were worth it.
"I didn't think we'd win," she says. "But we stuck to our guns to save the bay."
South Bay is located off the southern tip of Eastside Rd. and Nasipayko's is the last house within the City of Vernon. The Outback Resort development is built into the hillside overlooking the bay. It had plans to build a 72 slip marina in it.
"South bay, and the resort's activities, are largely out of sight, out of mind," Nasipayko says.
Rumour of Outback's plans to build in South Bay were first heard in 2006. At that point they already had a marina in neighbouring Quarry Bay, but felt it wasn't protected enough. By then, a storm had done damage to it, and they were seeking calmer waters.
"We told them no, keep it on the other side, the bay is full already," Nasipayko says. She, and other residents of the area, wanted to keep the bay the way it was: a source of clean drinking water, a place to swim, and a habitat for spawning salmon.
Residents formed the Friends of South Bay group, for which Nasipayko is the spokesperson. The group held education events, hired a lawyer, paid for an environmental study, worked with local government, and made sure as many people knew about the proposed marina as possible.
"I couldn't feel good about myself if I didn't do anything about it," Nasipayko says.
In the process of fighting for what they believed in, residents shelled out $170,000. That paid for the lawyer, the studies, and anything else needed to protect the bay.
It all culminated in an objection submission sent to the government last December. It contained all the hours of work, the hope and the fear of the Friends of South Bay. They waited over two months for a reply.
Nasipayko vividly recalls the moment she opened her inbox to find the email from the Crown land adjudicator saying Outback resort would be denied its request to build the marina.
"I read it four times, then I sat back and said, we won," Nasipayko says. "Then I just jumped up and down."
It was what she had spent years working towards, yet it came as a profound surprise.
"Everyone had their mind made up locally," she says of unwavering support from Vernon city council. It was various government ministries and bureaus the group worried about.
"The whole thing took up a lot of my emotional space," Nasipayko says.
Now that South Bay is safe for the foreseeable future, Nasipayko still worries about the lake at large.
"It could happen anywhere. There are other marina proposals for the lake," she says. "If Outback got their marina, it would have set a precedent for the rest of the lake."
For Nasipayko, it's hard to believe she and a group of concerned citizens really made a difference in a world where the little guy often loses.
"I guess all the little things we did worked," she says.
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