Moratorium to be lifted on marinas

The District of Invermere is seeking public input on lake zoning plan that will guide any new developments.

A four-year moratorium on new marinas on Lake Windermere is coming to an end in August, and an upcoming round of information sessions and public hearings is aiming to create a set of guidelines to regulate any future developments.

“The rationale behind the [moratorium] was to allow the regional district and Invermere time to undertake the Lake Windermere Management Plan, and then to work on the potential for surface zoning which would provide some guidance and regulation around structures and uses,” District of Invermere (DOI) mayor Gerry Taft said. “It has nothing to do with rate of speed or size of vessel or anything to do with that.”

The moratorium had been a joint effort between the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and the DOI, and now that the principles of the Lake Windermere Management Plan have been adopted by both the RDEK and the DOI, the decision has been made to ask for public input in terms of lake zoning.

At a July 10 meeting, DOI council approved a motion to initiate a public house to present and gather input on the proposed Lake Windermere surface zoning regulations within the DOI boundary. In the current draft, there are four zones for the lake: residential, group moorage (buoys, etc.), institutional (recreation areas) and commercial. The drafted regulations are similar to what’s been by done the RDEK to maintain consistency and applied to the DOI’s lakeshore, from Pete’s Marina to Castlerock, extending out 200 metres from the shore, which is the official district boundary.

“Right now the RDEK and the DOI are drafting bylaws to do with surface zoning on the lake,” Taft explained. “The intention is that those zones — maybe after some changes and input from the public — will then be adopted in the fall to be used as a guidance when applications come forward.”

According to Taft, there is already a sizable waiting list of applications, from private land owners to community associations. Applications will need to be made to either the DOI or the RDEK depending on the location, and meeting the requirements of the new surface zoning will be the first step before applying to the province for crown tenure or a license of occupation. However, before any bylaws are adopted there will be plenty of opportunity for public input.

The first of these information sessions takes place on Tuesday (July 31) from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Invermere Community Hall.

“There are information sessions, first, to provide input and guidance, and depending on what comes out of those information sessions, changes might be made to the draft zones and the bylaws,” Taft said. “It’s definitely not being rushed in, and nothing is being hidden.”

Taft also said the district is looking to build a commercial marine and one particular area has been identified. While the space is currently occupied by another business, Taft said there is potential that it could be moved to another location in deeper water, freeing up space for any new developments.

“I think the draft zoning bylaws we have make a lot of sense, they basically identify some areas where it would make sense to have group mooring facilities,” Taft said. “Surface zoning is not new to the RDEK and the local government here… if people have questions they should take the opportunity to get involved and get engaged, and they’ll probably find out that it’s not as controversial as they might think it might be.”

—with files from Nicole Trigg