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RDNO ends lengthy attempt to bring new boating regulations to Shuswap River

With no consensus among stakeholders or remaining funds, the regional district is moving on
The Shuswap River in Enderby draws in people from near and far in the summer months of each year. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

After years of weighing solutions to recurring issues on the Shuswap River, the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) has moved on from the idea of adding new boating regulations for the local recreation hot spot.

Concerns regarding the river’s use have cropped up annually. They include the impacts of recreation on the environment; conflicts between boaters and other river users; and other issues ranging from trespassing to littering.

Those issues and more are detailed in the RDNO’s 2014 Shuswap River Watershed Sustainability Plan, which was shared with local agencies and community members to help identify and solve issues that take place on the water.

Five of the 114 strategies in the plan included the option of applying to Transport Canada for the implementation of Vessel Operating Restriction Regulations (VORR).

In 2015 the RDNO began consulting with other governments and the community for input. Using a professional mediation process, the regional district looked to find enough support for a strong application to Transport Canada.

However, the regional district says there was not enough consensus from those efforts to regulate the full length of the river.

“The mediation process resulted in mixed success but no solid agreement on what the added rules should look like on the entire river,” reads an RDNO news release issued Thursday (June 17).

“Additionally, there is no feasible financial path to continue to fund these efforts.”

Without a path forward and with the recreation season already well underway, the Board passed a resolution to no longer pursue additional regulations on the Shuswap River.

The board also requested that the provincial and federal governments increase their role in addressing safety concerns on the river.

READ MORE: Muffling excessive boat noise on Okanagan Lake

“We want to thank everyone who has participated in this process and shared their passion for the Shuswap River,” said Board Chair Kevin Acton. “Although consensus was not reached, the process resulted in significant discoveries and discussions on the issues facing the Shuswap River, many of which can effectively be addressed through non-regulatory methods that are within the jurisdiction of the RDNO.”

The RDNO has put more than $1 million into non-regulatory actions since 2008, according to the release. The plan is to carry on with those actions, which include “contributing to enhanced boat patrols on the river, signage along the river banks, water quality assessments, the River Ambassador program, and dedicating staff time from the Safe Communities function.”

In April, the Board invested $17,000 for the purchase of a new watercraft for the Conservation Officer Service (COS), to help bolster the federal and provincial agency’s enhanced boat patrol program on the Shuswap River.

The 2014 Shuswap River Watershed Sustainability Plan can be found here. To view the RDNO’s frequently asked questions document, go here.

READ MORE: Boat purchased to provide enhanced Shuswap River oversight this floating season

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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