The Regional District of North Okanagan will seek more community involvement over boat use on the Shuswap River.

The Regional District of North Okanagan will seek more community involvement over boat use on the Shuswap River.

Protest forces Shuswap River boat ban process to expand

Director Herman Halvorson says there is a need for more consultation with residents

A hostile response has forced politicians to go back to the public over a possible Shuswap River boat ban.

The Electoral Area Advisory Committee came under fire from a capacity crowd Thursday over a lengthy process that looked into restricting motorized vessels on sections of the river in the rural Enderby area.

“You don’t understand how you are impeding our lifestyle and investment,” said Sherri DeCorby, from Grindrod.

“We want a fair process and that’s what we expect from our elected officials.”

EAAC will recommend to the Regional District of North Okanagan board to hire a consultant to work with the community to consider options that may foster consensus over the river.

“There is a need for consultation. I heard that loud and clear,” said Herman Halvorson, rural Enderby director.

“The process will be separate from the regional district. Everyone will be consulted.”

Halvorson says there is a need to investigate the issue further instead of just walking away from proposed regulations based on survey results.

“It was split 50/50. Some are for regulations and some are against.”

Depending on the three zones on the river, the survey indicated a range of 45 to 46 per cent in favour of regulations and a range of 42 to 52 per cent opposed.

Halvorson took a lot of heat from residents at Thursday’s meeting.

“If our representative is neutral and representing us, I’m Aunt Jemima riding a unicorn,” said Rene St. Onge, from Mara.

RDNO was also accused of bowing to a minority of residents who want a boat ban.

“It’s pretty easy to demonize boat users,” said Mike Steiner, from Mara.

RDNO had been proposing restrictions on motorized vessels from south Mabel Lake upstream to Shuswap Falls and from Trinity Valley Road upstream to the eastern end of Skookumchuck Rapids Park. It was suggested that there be a vessel engine size limit of 10 horsepower from Mara Lake upstream to Trinity Valley Road.

Reasons given for the possible rules were safety and bank erosion, but those were challenged by some residents.

“It’s not a disaster for safety. It’s not a freeway,” said Mara’s Lance Armstrong.

A reoccurring allegation was that RDNO had not conducted sufficient consultation.

“No one ever talked to me about closing the river,” said Chance Temple, with the Riverfront Pub in Grindrod.

Bob Fleming, EAAC chairman, says the process moving ahead will hopefully lead to a solution most residents can accept.

“It may not be a regulation. It may be a speed zone or more conservation officer hours on the river,” he said.