Council challenges boat launch report

An already contentious boat launch report is being doused with even more criticism.

The draft regional boat launch report has seen a swell of opposition launched by the Okanagan Landing Association and some Vernon politicians over a recommendation to expand the launch at Paddlewheel Park.

Now Coldstream is challenging the validity of the report.

“This report was flawed with their terms of reference and who they went to for information,” said Coun. Bill Firman, who initially suggested the study be completely rejected but council agreed that it should instead be further investigated.

It is being requested that none of the recommendations in the report be carried forward until there is further study on the impact of all stakeholders and user groups of both Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes. The unanimous Coldstream decision will be forwarded to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee

Coldstream politicians, as well as some residents, feel the study was unfairly conducted as it surveyed only boat owners and not any other user groups (such as swimmers, paddlers, canoers, kayakers).

“The conclusions drawn by this study were almost predetermined to favour one user group,” said Coun. Maria Besso.

Coldstream is also challenging the boat carrying capacity calculations in the report – 15 boats per acre, which works out to 400 boats at any given time on Kalamalka and 858 on Okanagan.

“Where did that number come from?” questions Coun. Richard Enns.

Coldstream also questions how a boat launch study could be done which overlooks a key launch – Kalavista.

“The study was initiated because of the problems happening at the Kalavista boat launch,” said Besso of problems with congestion and safety at the launch.

Coldstream also challenges a recommendation in the report that mooring buoys be considered for Kalamalka Lake, since the district is currently working on a bylaw to prohibit moorage.

“It speaks against our foreshore zoning bylaw,” said Mayor Jim Garlick.

The Kalavista neighbourhood committee is forwarding its concerns over the study.

“This report should be completely rejected as being completely useless,” said committee member Rob Mackay.

The local resident agrees that access to lakes must be provided but he questions at what cost.

“They’re now targeting Paddlewheel Park. That’s absurd.”

Mackay also questions the terms of reference for the report and the demographics used to back up the need for increased boat access.

The report states that more than one-third of Greater Vernon households currently own a boat.

“There’s no proof, there’s no verification of this,” said Mackay. “The fact that 30 per cent of residents have a $20,000 boat sitting in their driveway is completely false.”

While there is much objection to the report, Besso says there are some good suggestions such as using Centennial Park for the paddling club and creating spots with washrooms for boaters.

“Some of the recommendations in this report are useful.”