The Paddlewheel Park boat launch is closed temporarily because of high levels on Okanagan Lake. (Morning Star file photo)

Paddlewheel boat launch closed

High water and safety concerns have led to the Paddlewheel Park boat launch closure in Vernon

A major access to Okanagan Lake has been shut down as water levels continue to rise.

The Paddlewheel Park boat launch was closed Wednesday night because of the risk the wake from speeding boats poses to adjacent properties while the lake is beyond full pool.

“We’re talking about the potential of millions of dollars in property damage,” said director Juliette Cunningham.

“There’s also a lot of debris (from creeks) in the lake and there’s a safety risk to boaters. The closure is a proactive way to protect the public.”

There is also a concern that boats could hit docks submerged under the water.

On Wednesday morning, Okanagan Lake had risen more than three centimetres to 342.736 metres since the previous morning.

Opposition to the closure came from directors Bob Fleming and Mike Macnabb.

Fleming believes tourism will be negatively impacted and boaters will just flock to smaller, uncontrolled launches.

“We will solve a problem here and cause a problem there,” he said.

Coldstream recently closed the Kalavista, Kinloch and Westkal boat launches on Kalamalka Lake because of high water.

Director Brian Quiring is urging boaters on local lakes to use common sense and consider waterfront properties.

“You need to keep the speed limit down,” he said.

Transport Canada rules state that anyone operating a power-driven boat must adhere to a speed limit of 10 kilometres per hour within 30 metres of shore. But slower speeds are encouraged while water levels remain high.

And residents are urged to leave debris along Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes in place as it slows down wave action and reduced shore erosion.