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West Kelowna 'bozo' had permission to use boat launch

The Gellatly Boat Launch at the West Kelowna Yacht Club has been closed for several days.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
May 31, 2017 - 2:30 PM

KELOWNA - The man West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater called a ‘bozo’ on social media for using a closed boat launch was a technician with West Kelowna Marine and according to the business owner, he was allowed to be there and wasn’t doing anything wrong.

On Monday night, Findlater posted a slideshow of photos of an unidentified person removing ‘closed’ signs and barriers at the West Kelowna Yacht Club to launch a boat and two jet skis into Okanagan Lake. We told you the story yesterday.

The ‘bozo’ was a technician at nearby West Kelowna Marine. West Kelowna Marine and Gellatly Bay Boat Storage and Valet owner Mardy Zazelenchuk says he obtained permission from the City well before the mayor took his photos. When caught by Findlater’s camera, technician Patrick Lessard was testing the depth sounder on a customer’s boat, Zazelenchuk says.

“We do have permission from the City of West Kelowna to use that boat launch for business,” Zazelenchuk says. “If the mayor does not know what his people are doing then perhaps he should look into it before shooting this off and posting this - it’s ludicrous.”

“That launch is our livelihood. I’m just trying to run my business and do my job. Some services need to be checked in the water.”

According to Zazelenchuk, the boat never actually left the trailer, but simply was lowered into the water. Jacqi Maley, another technician with West Kelowna Marine, says the two jet skis were just put in the water in order to swap from one trailer to another.

“We still have a service shop to run, and some of that work needs to be done in the water,” Maley says. “Checking the depth sounder is extremely important, especially at a time when there is increased debris in the lake.”

Findlater's social media post — and our story — touched a few flood-heightened nerves, as people angrily decried the action but their activities in no way impacted any lakeside property. Like other boat companies, West Kelowna Marine and Gellatly Bay Boat Storage and Valet have been working to get boats off of the water.

“We’ve taken at least 10 boats out of the lake,” Maley says. “We are actually doing our best to tell people not to be out there.”

Maley says the precaution is to protect the boats themselves just as much as it is to protect lakefront properties.

“I know of a gentleman from Alberta who just bought a brand new competition quality boat and ignored the warnings and went out on the lake - he came back with $40,000 worth of damage.”

Zazelenchuk says if boat launches are going to be patrolled and if people are going to be discouraged from being on the water, all boat launches in the area should adhere to the same rules.

“If boaters are able to come and go from (any other dock on the lake), what are you going to do about it when they come over here? What’s the point if they're not all closed?”

With a combination of restricted water access, and road closures in the area, Zazelenchuk says his business has taken a hard hit with the current flooding.

“Not only are we slowed down economically by this, but if our mayor doesn't know our city mainly runs off tourism this time of year, they have a huge problem,” he says. “I think he owes me a public apology.”

Findlater has since commented on Facebook about the situation, however it still appears to be some misunderstanding between the Mayor and the company. 

"So the culprits have been spoken to. They were testing the motors on the repaired boats. They can continue to do so if they arrange for a staff member to open and close the barricades, but they cannot launch them for a ride from that location."

Calls to Findlater this morning were not returned before publication. 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman 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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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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