Mixed views on proposed Shuswap River boating restrictions

Proposed regulations suggest banning motorized boats from much of the Shuswap River, and allowing a maximum engine size of 10 horse power in other areas.
Image Credit: North Okanagan Regional District

VERNON - There’s been plenty of interest in proposed boating regulations on the Shuswap River, though it's still to early to tell which side of the debate the majority lands on.

The North Okanagan Regional District has so far received 1,065 electronic surveys, plus 118 paper copies submitted in response to the proposed changes, which would ban boats from parts of the river and restrict horse power in others.

The reasoning behind the changes stems from concerns around environmental degradation, impacts on wildlife, and the safety of other river users such as swimmers and tubers. The proposal isn’t popular with many residents who feel the changes aren’t necessary and would negatively affect their quality of life, as well as the local economy.

Surveys results show the public is divided on the changes. Limiting boats to a maximum engine size of 10 horse power from the mouth of the Lower Shuswap River at Mara Lake to Baxter Bridge on Trinity Valley Road was met with 41 per cent in favour (agree or strongly agree) and 57 per cent against (disagree or strongly disagree.) The remaining two per cent were undecided.

Banning motorized vessels from the Lower Shuswap River from Baxter Bridge to the end of Skookumchuck Rapids Park garnered 42 per cent in favour, and 47 per cent in opposition, with a further 11 per cent undecided.

Prohibiting motorized vessels from the mouth of Mid Shuswap River at Mabel Lake South to the Shuswap Falls earned 43 per cent in favour, and 42 per cent against, with 15 per cent undecided.

Most of the respondents are from the North Okanagan and Shuswap areas, though some are from elsewhere in the Okanagan and out of province.

Numerous phone calls, emails and letters, as well as two petitions, have also been sent to the regional district in regards to the proposed changes.

Sustainability coordinator Anna Page says surveys are being accepted until Aug. 28, and notes it’s still too early to say what impact the feedback will have on the initiative. She anticipates a review and analysis of the completed feedback won’t be available until the fall.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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