A consultant is recommending changes to Paddlewheel Park because of demands at the boat launch.

A consultant is recommending changes to Paddlewheel Park because of demands at the boat launch.

Boat launch changes urged

It’s a tight squeeze for anyone wanting to go boating on Greater Vernon lakes.

A consultant reviewing boat launches on Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes has told Vernon council that current facilities are insufficient for demand.

“We’re fortunate all of these boat owners don’t go down (to the lake) all at the same time,” said Coun. Shawn Lee.

A survey found that 36 per cent of households in Greater Vernon own a boat and 10 per cent plan on purchasing a boat in the next five years.

Boat ownership in Coldstream is highest at 56 per cent, with the two electoral areas at 45 per cent and Vernon at 32 per cent.

In 2009 and 2010, more than 10,000 boats were  launched at local public launches each summer, while there is moorage for 1,600 boats on Okanagan Lake and there are 500 slips/docks on Kalamalka Lake.

It’s anticipated there could be an additional 2,000 boats in the area in the next 20 years.

Consultant Doris Haas, who is doing the study for the North Okanagan Regional District, is recommending changes to how boat launches and boat storage are provided.

Haas suggests Paddlewheel Park be redesigned for more efficient parking of boat trailers, while protecting other park uses.

She also calls for new motorized launches at Foster Road and Kin Beach in Okanagan Landing,  and she identifies eight potential sites for non-motorized launches on Okanagan Lake.

“Some of the sites are now used but it would be better if they were designated for that use,” said Haas.

While 71 per cent of the Greater Vernon residents surveyed have motor boats, 63 per cent own a boat with oars or paddles.

In terms of the city’s waterfront neighbourbood centre plan, the study suggests sites be preserved for future moorage and a public dock.

“Boaters usually  have money they like to spend on food and shopping,” said Haas of tourism.

The study only looked at non-motorized use on Kalamalka Lake, and five potential sites for launches have been identified.

The study also looks at the possibility of valet parking to reduce pressure at launches or using school parking lots for vehicles and trailers.

Other issues raised are garbage disposal and washrooms, and Coun. Jack Gilroy insists they must be addressed.

“I boat a lot in the States and they use chemical toilets,” said Gilroy.

“I wouldn’t mind paying (for launch use) if the money went towards that.”

The final draft report will be presented to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee April 7.