As the ice melts off Lake Windermere, many valley residents thoughts are turning to spring and summer activities to come,and coincidentally Invermere council ending up discussing two boating-related issues at its most recent council meeting.
The discussions — one on the state of the public boat launch at Pete’s Marina and the other on safety concerns between swimmers and human-powered watercraft in the Kinsmen Beach area — were prompted by questions from Invermere resident Sean Ridsdale, who attended the Tuesday, March 14th meeting.
Ridsdale prefaced his questions by apologizing if he was delving into issues that had already been in front of council before, but added that as a somewhat new resident in the valley, he is curious to learn more, before addressing the boat launch, pointing out “it’s really in terrible condition.”
Council members responded that the boat launch is indeed one of the district’s top priorities, but that there are several complication factors at play.
“We (the district) don’t actually own much land down there. It’s mostly private, so that greatly restricts what we can do. We are trying to open dialogue with the owners, so far we haven’t been successful,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.
Ridsdale also mentioned the gravel sand bar in the river channel near the launch, saying: “It creates quite a bottleneck.”
Invermere chief administrative officer Chris Prosser answered that the district “has put in an application to remove that, but it’s in the hand of the provincial and federal government. The District of Invermere has no authority or jurisdiction over it(the gravel bar).”
Ridsdale also asked about safety issues in Taynton Bay, with many non-motorized lake users at Kinsmen Beach being inclose proximity to motorized watercraft travelling at high speeds.
“There are people paddleboarding and free swimming and then there are boat drivers ripping through with (water) skiers. Is there any way to put in a no-wake zone to ensure boats aren’t going too fast? It might be something to look at, for not other reason than safety,” said Ridsdale.
Invermere mayor Gerry Taft responded that the Lake Windermere management plan officially designates Taynton Bay as a“slow-wake” zone, but that in practice many boaters ignore this.
“It (the slow-wake zone) is a recommendation, not a law, so there is no way to enforce it. And even if it was a law the district, again, doesn’t have jurisdiction to enforce it. The only thing on water bodies that local governments can regulate are structures,” he said, adding that several years ago the bay had been blocked off for a dragon boat festival, but that anindividual upset at not being able to boat there had threatened legal action.
“Well, I’m pretty passionate. I’m going to start looking into it,” replied Ridsdale.
Council members wished him luck.