Potential boating restrictions for the Shuswap River are again making waves.
Electoral Area Advisory Committee members will debate a notice of motion Thursday that sees six recommendations for the waterway.
It is being recommended that Regional District of North Okanagan staff be directed to make an application to Transport Canada — with the Splatsin Band as co-applicants — for Vessel Operating Restrictions (VORR) on the river.
The recommendations include:
1. 45 km/hour on the Shuswap River from Mara Lake to Enderby’s Tuey Park;
2. 10 km/hour in the vicinity of Grindrod Park;
3. 10 km/hour from Tuey Park to the City of Enderby Bridge;
4. 15 km/hour from City of Enderby Bridge to Baxter Bridge (Trinity Valley Bridge);
5. 15 km/hour from Baxter Bridge to Mabel Lake with a seasonal closure from Sept. 15 to Nov. 15 annually;
6. No towing on the entire lower river from Mara Lake to Mabel Lake.
If the application to Transport Canada, with Splatsin as co-applicant, for Vessel Operating Restrictions on the Shuswap River is approved, the regional district will be asked to enter into negotiations with Splatsin for sharing costs of enforcement of new regulations.
In May 2015, the regional district sought feedback on proposed boating regulations for the Shuswap River with a goal of improving recreational safety, reducing bank erosion, reducing disturbance to salmon spawning grounds and minimizing conflicts between users.
Debates, meetings, and open houses were held over the next two years with motorized vessel users arguing for their right to use the waterway in a safe manner.
In May 2017, the RDNO board approved a policy statement for the Shuswap River motorized vessel management mediation process.
The policy statement states that the regional district is:
1. Desirous to reduce risk to public safety and the environment through increased management of motorized vessels on the river. This may or may not include making recommendations to Transport Canada;
2. Open to a range of options including, but not limited to those identified in the Shuswap River Watershed Sustainability Plan;
3. Committed to following the consensus advice from a public advisory group that represents the range of stakeholders and perspectives subject to:
a. Reasonable cost implications of the recommendations;
b. Effective representation of the full spectrum of public interests;
c. Opportunities for broad public input have been provided;
d. First Nations have been consulted or directly involved.
A consultant was hired to work with various community representatives to try and find a resolution to the issue.
Motorized users made an offer in the summer of 2017 to limit types and size of craft permitted, as well as times of use for motorized vessels, and a requirement to preserve towing and suitable speeds.