At a meeting between Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Area F director Wendy Booth and the B.C. Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations at this fall’s Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention, Booth had asked that money from the sale of foreshore land along Lake Windermere come back to the area in some appropriate form, but was told there currently is no mechanism to divert funds from provincial government general revenue.
“Having said that, there may be the possibility of other means of finding some funds, either through the Ministry of Forest Land and Natural Resources Operations or perhaps the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. This is something that I am following up on,” said Booth.
The meeting sprang from recent referrals to the RDEK for the purchase of foreshore for four properties (as well as a fifth referral, which came in during the last month since The Echo last reported on the issue), all along the Lower Lakeview Road on the eastern shore of Lake Windermere.
In each of the five cases, homeowners had homes that were essentially lakefront properties, but the foreshore (the actual sliver of land right along the lake) was technically still owned by the provincial government.
The homeowners — perhaps not aware their properties didn’t extend right up to the lake to include the shore — have, in the years since they bought the properties, built structures such as boat houses, docks or retaining walls on land that technically belongs to the provincial government.
In some cases, these structures have been in places for many years.
“I’m not sure how old they are. However, I would guess that they are all more than 20 years old, some of them older,” said Booth. “My guess is that when they were built, there was no process to ask for permission to purchase the foreshore. There were leases in place and recently the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations sent letters to property owners who hadn’t purchased the foreshore.”
These were then referred on to the RDEK. Once the purchases are complete, they will simply formally legalize existing use, making official a situation that has been in practice
for decades. Booth said it’s possible some property owners in the area many already own the foreshore, but she wasn’t sure how many.
The money from the purchases will go into the provincial government’s general revenues. At the meeting, Booth had hoped to convince the ministry that, since the money is coming from the Lake Windermere area, it should then flow back into the area.
She and other local officials had hoped to use the funds to upgrade public access sites around the lake.