Canterbury Point group pushing for communal dock

A group of Invermere residents is trying to press forward with a plan to consolidate the boat moorage in the Canterbury Point area

A group of Invermere residents is trying to press forward with a long-held plan to consolidate the boat moorage in the Canterbury Point neighbourhood.

Keith Wright and Ron Belsher made a presentation to this end on behalf of the Canterbury Point Community Association to Invermere council at the council’s Tuesday, August 13th meeting.

The group had first proposed making a community dock six or seven years ago, but had to put its ideas on hold when the Lake Windermere management plan began a year or two later.

“It didn’t make sense for us to put an application for group boat moorage just as the Lake Windermere management plan was starting,” said Mr. Wright in the presentation.

The main reason the group wants the communal boat dock is that currently the community’s shared private beach (of which each resident in the Canterbury Point community has a 1/52nd share) has a number of individual, privately built moorages — something many residents in the neighbourhood find unappealing, according to Mr. Wright.

“We have boat lifts, boat rails, docks. It’s a little chaotic, it’s a mess. So we thought an organized system of boat moorage would help clean up the beach, make it a more appealing place,” said Mr. Wright, adding the association is now thinking of a group dock with 16 boat slips, four boat slips fewer than when the idea was first proposed.

The association is unsure  what its next steps should be and was seeking advice from council during the meeting.

“What precipitated the whole idea was that people in Canterbury Point who don’t have boats are tired of boat rails and boat slips occupying the beach,” said Mr. Belsher. “Some people seem to think that with a 1/52nd share (of the beach) they can do whatever they want on it.”

Members of council said  although they may be sympathetic to the idea of cleaning up the beach by setting up a group dock, there is a host of potential jurisdiction and technical complications they are concerned about.

Invermere mayor Gerry Taft wondered whether the district even had the authority to get people to remove existing boats and rails, given that the Canterbury Point beach is shared private property, not public property.

“We don’t have the power to remove them,” said Invermere chief administrative officer Chris Prosser, adding the responsibility would likely lie with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Existing boat rails and lift might also have to be grandfathered in, added Mr. Prosser.

“There are ways, there are tools (to deal with the issue), but they’re going to be legally complex,” he said, adding even if zoning and rules were changed, enforcing the rules could also be complex.

“You don’t want to put something in places that you can’t enforce. It’s complicated,” said Councillor Greg Anderson.

Mr. Taft also expressed concern about how enforcement would work.

“Whose job would it be to enforce? And who would pay for that enforcement? The devil’s in the details,” said Mr. Taft, adding council was aware that not everybody in the Canterbury Point community was necessarily in favour of the group moorage idea.

“If it does go ahead, we’d need to have a public hearing so we could see it from all sides,” said Mr. Anderson.

Another complication is the issue of overlapping jurisdiction, said Mr. Anderson, adding that in this case this could include areas under jurisdiction of both the federal government and the provincial Ministry of Environment as well as private landowners and the district.

A structure connected to the shore that floats on the surface, such as a dock, falls under the district’s jurisdiction, but one that lies on the lake floor beneath the surface does not, further complicating the issue of boat rails, said Mr. Prosser.

“We’re open to seeing that (a group dock), I wouldn’t say it’s impossible,” Mr. Taft said to Mr. Wright, but added that it’s not going to be easy.

The Canterbury Point Association has been waiting since about 2007 and so is prepared to remain patient as it pushes ahead with the group dock plan, said Mr. Wright.