The mayors of Coldstream and Vernon are pondering the future of Rotary Pier at Kalamalka Lake Beach.
The longtime dock is currently closed to the public due to high water levels in Kal Lake. However, it’s closure is being ignored by some people, as pointed out by Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick, who was referring to a viral video showing a fight on the pier involving mostly teenagers (see below in story).
“When the water recedes, we’ll have to look and see if the dock has been structurally affected,” said Garlick. “Secondly, I think just moving forward with the dock, the activities that take place on there – a lot of them illegal activities – we could throw a lot of money into having bylaw officers patrol the dock but I’m not sure how successful that would be.
“On any given day there’s a large number of people out there.”
Garlick referenced the fight video, as well as people drinking on the dock, and said he was told by kids that “fires have been lit on the dock.” He went for a walk on the pier one night this week and noticed people drinking.
He said the hordes of people on the dock could be intimidating for both bylaw and RCMP officers on foot patrols.
The RCMP have been asked to go out and patrol the dock and Garlick acknowledged they did go a few times last summer.
“I think it’s time to put the public on notice a little bit,” he said. “If the dock becomes a burden, the next time around when it comes to rebuild it, do we rebuild or do we just get rid of it?”
Garlick said support for getting rid of the dock comes from emergency room doctors at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and the injuries they’ve seen and treated as a result of dock incidents.
Moving forward, Garlick said, he wants to hear from the public about the pier.
“Is it a benefit or is it a detriment?” he said. “If it is a detriment, get rid of it.”
Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund said the health and safety of those who enjoy Kal Beach is most important.
“With families out there to enjoy themselves, now we have to think of risks to families running into intoxicated people,” said Mund. “If people don’t want to use the dock for what it was intended for, we should remove it.”
Regional District of North Okanagan director Mike Macnabb said there may be financial reasons for not rebuilding the dock if it’s been structurally damaged due to high water and storm.
“Who makes the determination (to fix the dock)?” he asked. “We might have another flooding situation. We might have to raise the dock. I think there’s a financial argument there, as well as the public’s safety.”
Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP responded shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday to a report of a group of intoxicated people fighting on the pier.
“Members attended the noted location and were advised by the beach-goers that all the people
involved had fled, and no injuries were seen by witnesses,” said RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk. “Members stayed on-scene and patrolled the beach.”
Extra patrols via all-terrain vehicle and on-foot, he said, are scheduled.
The incident was the second such fight in the North Okanagan shot on a cell phone in a three-day span. A melee outside a downtown Vernon nightclub Sunday morning was also captured on video and posted to social media.
Moskaluk has some advice for residents.
“Please call police when you see something that requires police attendance,” he said. “Remember it’s a cell phone and not just a camera.”