Impact of more docks on Columbia Lake debated

Canal Flats councillors took issue with warnings about the impacts of allowing docks on the village’s waterfront property

Canal Flats councillors took issue with warnings about the impacts of allowing docks on the village’s waterfront property at the November 9th council meeting.

A proposed amendment to the village’s Bylaw 45 would allow docks and overnight moorage within the WR-1 (“water resource”) zoned areas in the village, areas that include the Painted Ridge and Eagle’s Nest developments. The notion that docks could proliferate in a way that’s unhealthy for the lake (or unsightly for residents) was carefully scrutinized.

“The regional district did a huge amount of work on this; there’s lots of good information out there to make this bylaw,” said Coun. Marie Delorme, who told council she herself owns waterfront property in the village. “I’m concerned that if we don’t allow docks on lakefront lots, it will lower the assessed value and affect the tax dollars in our village. We have to be alert to what we have here and what we can create.”

In a background note to council, chief administrative officer Brian Woodward noted the impact of allowing docks in the WR-1 areas “could be substantial.”

“There could be up to 70 docks or a number of docks to house up to 70 boats,” he wrote.

Delorme cited precedents established by the Regional District of East Kootenay around riparian (waterfront) rights for new developments, and noted that, of the 125 waterfront lots on Columbia Lake, not every one would automatically be allowed to build a dock.

Although only 28 properties in Canal Flats have lakefront access, four public access laneways in Canal Flats would allow another 40 non-waterfront lots to apply for provincial permits to build docks at the end of those laneways. That could be done under a revised Bylaw 45, Woodward explained, provided homeowners go through the process of forming a society to do so. Under current zoning, it would not be possible.

Delorme informed council she has been to all meetings for Columbia Lake communities that want to allow overnight moorage on the lake, and insisted the process is not as simple as forming a society and getting provincial permission. Riparian rights must be granted to them by the province, she said.

She illustrated her point by noting Timber Springs (near Columere Park) has no riparian rights, so the regional district has not allowed homeowners there to have moorage buoys. Bella Vista, which is further inland and above Timber Springs, was not even considered, so their buoys were pulled out, she added.

Coun. Delorme noted there are 11 waterfront lots in Painted Ridge and 15 at Eagle’s Nest, with the remainder being non-waterfront lots with access to a right of way leading to the shoreline. Using Columbia Ridge  (a lakefront development on the west side of Columbia lake) as a precedent, any non-waterfront lots with laneway titles would not necessarily be entitled to their own dock, she said.

The original Bylaw 45 was enacted by the Village of Canal Flats in June 2008, creating the WR-1 and WR-2 zones. WR-2 covers the area adjacent to Tilley Memorial Park and allows for docks, while WR-1 covers all other lake areas within the Village of Canal Flats boundaries, and does not allow for docks or overnight moorage.

In a letter dated September 9th, 2015, concerns were brought to council from 391043 Alberta Ltd., the holding company owned by Painted Ridge developer (and former Calgary Flames goaltender) Mike Vernon, complaining of an uneven approach to dock allowances, pointing out that docks exist within the WR-1 zone. Meanwhile, he is not permitted docks in his Painted Ridge development.

“It is fair to say that the Village of Canal Flats has decided to turn a ‘blind eye’ and has knowingly decided not to enforce the provisions within the WR-1 zone against these unauthorized and illegal ‘dock’ structures and ‘overnight moorage’ activities,” wrote Mr. Vernon, who urges council to “consider whether an updated amendment is needed to reflect reality.”

Coun. Karl Sterzer noted biologists have told council that docks become habitat for fish, and offer protection from ospreys. Delorme noted buoys create more impact than docks, without the benefits (noting buoy chains tend to drag across the bottom of the lake.)

Sterzer noted he has built timber frame homes on lakefront lots all over the province, and said Canal Flats would be an anomaly to not have docks. He urged council to make Bylaw 45 a priority, as he believes homeowners will fight the village over their assessed values if the issue is not resolved.

At the council meeting, Woodward noted the WR-2 zone around Tilley Memorial Beach to the end of village area is of “moderate to low ecological value.”

Mayor Ute Juras also pointed out that “our lake is very shallow, and very susceptible to traffic.”

After lengthy discussion, council agreed to study the issue of public access waterfront rights in a November 25th Committee of the Whole meeting before bringing the Bylaw 45 amendment back to council for first reading.

Earlier in the meeting, gallery member (and Valley Echo publisher) Dean Midyette asked why there had been a one and a half month delay for a discussion on Bylaw 45, which was first slated to appear as an agenda item for the September 14th council meeting.

Juras replied that village staff did not have enough time to prepare the background information to foster the discussion.

Just Posted

The end of an Echo
The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.
UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers
VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

Aerial view south of Williams Lake Friday afternoon shows dry lightning storm passing over, leaving fire starts behind. Lightning sparked more than 100 new fires Friday. (Black Press)
VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017
DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase
59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

(Flickr/Andreas Eldh)
Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage
Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds
UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Photo by:
Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert
UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

A university study finds that about nine per cent of Canada’s Grade 11 and 12 students – roughly 66,000 teens – have driven within an hour of drinking and 9.4 per cent drove after using marijuana.                                 Photo: Now-
Leader file
One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records
Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read