Provincial officials are going to new depths to crack down on docks in the Okanagan.
With the restructuring of government ministries, a new team of land officers has settled in the region and is setting its sights on private moorage docks in the Okanagan.
Historically there has only been one official who dealt with dock building applications and compliance for a vast region reaching out to Fernie, Williams Lake and Merritt.
“Now we have quite an increased number of people on the ground,” said Liz Williamson, Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations senior land officer for the Okanagan-Shuswap.
Whether it’s a complaint, docks exceeding allowable sizes, or piers built without approval, many cases went unaddressed.
“Now we have the resources,” said Williamson.
Along with addressing complaints, Williamson and the other land officers are also hunting down docks that do not conform.
“There has been a fair bit of history of docks being constructed without the approvals,” said Williamson. “We have the ability to seize those structures and have them removed.”
Rules have also changed, for example walkways were historically allowed to be three metres wide, while they are now only permitted to be 1.5 metres.
Those that were approved prior to changes will only have to conform when rebuilding is necessary.
To help identify unacceptable docks, the regional land office is part of a pilot project on Okanagan Lake. Using low level photography piers will be mapped out and officers will be able to determine which are in compliance.
“We can flag which ones are oversized and which ones meet the guidelines and plan our route of attack,” said Williamson, adding that slides, hot tubs, gazebos, roof structures and minibars are not permitted on docks.
Coldstream, a community that is situated around the popular Kalamalka Lake, says there’s a real need for additional officers in the area.
“There’s been some issues around complaints around docks, their construction and lack of enforcement,” said Michael Stamhuis, chief administrative officer.
One councillor is also hopeful the land officers in the area can help the district remove the pile driver which has been floating around the lake for years.
“You can see it off shore, it’s tied to trees,” said Coun. Gyula Kiss of the pile driver which he says is now near Rattlesnake Point.