LUMBY - Efforts to restrict boats on Sugar Lake and the Shuswap River have been revived, but it’s hard to say if they’ll go anywhere this time.
Lumby resident Russ Collins launched a petition calling on the North Okanagan Regional District to apply to Transport Canada for boat motor restrictions on the lake and river to keep the watershed clean, safe and protected.
“It’s one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest rivers, at this latitude anywhere,” Collins says. “It has no mining, no serious developments, no cities, nothing like that near it. We’d like to keep it that way.”
He says large motor boats threaten public safety, erode the banks, pollute the water and disturb wildlife.
“For those reasons, we’d like to keep recreation gentle,” he says.
It’s not the first time citizens have asked local government to lobby for boat motor restrictions. In 2009, Collins says the Sugar lake and Middle Shuswap Stewards along with the Cherryville Water Stewards approached the regional district with a 600-name petition asking it to begin the process with Transport Canada to implement restrictions. He claims the board unanimously passed a resolution to do so, however local area director Hank Cameron says according to the board minutes, they only agreed to consider it.
“It was considered by the board, but it didn’t make the grade for a number of reasons,” Cameron says. “Because, I think it was considered to be not popular with the local people in Cherryville. For another, it was something being supported by people who weren’t local, most of the names were people who weren’t from this area.”
Cameron believes the issue is back in the spotlight due to a resort development and dock replacement happening on Sugar Lake.
Independently of the petition, the regional district has proposed boating restrictions on portions of the lower and mid Shuswap River, informed by the findings of the Shuswap River Watershed Sustainability Plan. Those restrictions are currently in a phase of public consultation, and do not include the upper Shuswap River or Shuswap Lake.
One idea that has been discussed locally, Cameron says, is the possibility of implementing zoning on the upper and middle sections of the river to keep big boats out of those areas. Those discussions are in the early stages, and whatever happens, Cameron says any changes are ultimately up to Transport Canada.
“It’s not within our jurisdiction, all local government could do is advocate for whatever the community decides by consensus. That (restrictions) obviously isn’t the consensus at this point.”
To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.