Lake Country beach clean-up proceeds

The controversial clean up of a Lake Country public beach is moving ahead.

The controversial clean up of a Lake Country public beach is moving ahead.

It was determined Tuesday that a September council motion to remove private items from a three-kilometre stretch along Okanagan Lake still stands.

“You have to draw the line some place,” said Coun. Owen Dickie of the need to proceed.

“There is a small group opposed to cleanup. In the last week, I have had 16 e-mails that the cleanup should not proceed and 41 saying it should proceed.”

In September, council adopted a motion to remove old boathouses, boats, chairs and other private property left on the greenspace by residents.

At the Feb. 5 meeting, there was a notice of motion to rescind the September action and the matter was supposed to be discussed Tuesday. However, the notion of motion was withdrawn, meaning that municipal staff can proceed with the cleanup.

Mayor James Baker admits the issue has dominated the council agenda.

“It’s divided Okanagan Centre residents somewhat,” he said.

While some residents want the items gone, others have stated that the character of Okanagan Centre will change particularly if residents can’t access picnic tables or kayaks from time to time.

While some people insist long-time structures are grandfathered, Dickie disagrees.

“Ultimately, there hasn’t been a grandfathering. What there has been is an ignoring of the rules,” he said.

“What do we do about the people who came in the last five or 10 years? Do we create two classes of citizens?”

Baker says he would have preferred a grandfather clause for some items and a public meeting may be needed.

It’s anticipated items could be removed from the  public property within the next few weeks.

“Letters have gone out to people telling them that they have to get rid of their private items on the beach,” said Baker.

Dickie says some items, like picnic tables, may remain on the beach but they will now be owned by the district.