Shuswap River vessel restrictions proposal moves forward

Shuswap River vessel restrictions proposal moves forward

North Okanagan electoral area directors unanimously pass amended notice of motions

Regional District of North Okanagan electoral area directors are recommending to the full board some amended vessel operation restrictions for the lower portion of the Shuswap River, from Mabel Lake to Mara Lake.

Chairperson Herman Halvorson, overseeing his final electoral area meeting as he takes a run at the mayor’s chair in Enderby on Oct. 20, put forth a notice of motion in September. The motion, with the Splatsin Band as co-applicants, called for Transport Canada to consider an application for six vessel operation restrictions for the waterway.

One of the six called for no towing on the entire lower river from Mabel Lake to Mara Lake, but Halvorson amended that Thursay.

“What I proposed attemps to allow access to all parts of the river, just at slower speeds, and I recognize that towing was not was not part of this proposal,” said Halvorson. “As such, I’d like to change my motion to allow towing from Mara Lake up to the Grindrod Bridge in alignment with the Motorized User Group’s code of conduct which included no flooding of ballast tanks, or stern wedges for the purpose of creating a wake, and no towing of tubes in an S formation.”

That amendment was unanimously passed 5-0. Halvorson’s original motion also called for a 45 kilometre per hour speed limit on the river from Mara Lake to Enderby’s Tuey Park, but that was amended to 50 km/h, though director Bob Fleming was opposed.

The other recommendations passed as presented:

* 10 km/h in the vicinity of Grindrod Park;

* 10 km/h from Tuey Park to the City of Enderby bridge;

* 15 km/h from the City of Enderby bridge to Baxter Bridge (Trinity Valley Bridge);

* 15 km/h from Baxter Bridge to Mabel Lake with an annual seasonal closure from Sept. 15 to Nov. 15.

Halvorson also called for the RDNO to investigate the feasibility of developing a new boat launch upriver from the Splatsin reserve to allow easier access if the boats have to go slower to get to the fishing grounds.

The Splatsin Band must still sign off on the recommendations before they will be put before the RDNO board.

Close to 25 people were in the gallery for the decision, many of whom have been working on a compromise with the RDNO on the proposed vessel restrictions.

“I’m glad they bent on some things but there’s a lot of things there,” said Enderby’s Pat Weaver, a 25-year recreational fisherman on the river. “Enforcement out there was great this year, with the game wardens, the conservation officers and the police, it was great to see them out there.

“Sure, there are some bad apples in every group but in the end, more enforcement and more knowledge about what you can and can’t do on there would be great. It’s all about common sense. Most people have common sense. You slow down going past tubers, but then half the tubers are pigs. They’re out there getting drunk, dropping and sinking their beer cans to the bottom of the river.”

Halvorson said he put forth the notice of motion because he wanted to do it while still a director.

“I wanted to advance the discussion and not leave it unaddressed,” he said. “There was a lot of hard work done by the community volunteers on both sides of this matter, and I felt it should be discussed by the same group of directors that heard their presentations in July.|

Thursday’s meeting was the final one for Area C director Mike Macnabb, who is not seeking re-election. Fleming has a race in Area B for his seat while Area D and E directors, Rick Fairbairn and Hank Cameron, respectively, were voted in by acclamation.