A so-called lake protection strategy aims to prevent or restrict new development along the shore of Okanagan Lake.
Municipal councils in the Valley are being asked to lend their support in principle to the strategy, despite the absence so far of what specific measures might be taken to prevent future development.
One fact that is acknowledged in a report now being circulated to local governments, however, is that the forthcoming proposals will not likely be well received by people who own property along Okanagan Lake.
“There is some potential that private property owners may not be supportive of such an initiative as it may be seen by some as restricting an individual’s ability to develop on the foreshore,” reads part of the report, to be considered Tuesday by Lake Country town council.
While anticipating opposition, the report’s authors say measures to prohibit or restrict future waterfront development are supported by environmental, ecological and health considerations.
‘The Okanagan is the most biologically diverse region in the country and has the most endangered species. Many species (are) dependent on the ecology that is supported by the lakes in the region, including Okanagan Lake,” the report states.
“Okanagan Lake is a key source of drinking water and an economic driver as it relates to tourism in the region,” it says.
Nothing in the report indicates precisely what kind of future actions are being contemplated to prevent or restructure waterfront development.
But municipal councils throughout the Okanagan are being asked to endorse a consultation, feedback and communication strategy aimed at developing “policies, regulations and best practices to enhance multi-jurisdictional shoreline management to protect water quality and environmental values of Okanagan Lake,” the report states.
Currently, about 41% of Okanagan Lake’s 290 kilometres is in a natural state, officials with the Regional District of Central Okanagan said last year.
But the pace of development, in the form of such things as docks, marinas and other waterfront projects, was said by regional officials to be of concern.
Between 2009 and 2016, 165 new retaining walls, 164 docks and nine new marinas were built on Okanagan Lake between Penticton and Vernon.
Looking forward, officials said last year that “at the current rate of development, the natural areas around the lake that are not located in parks or protected areas could be completely lost to development in 40 to 160 years.”
“This large range reflects the fact that development rates go up and down from year to year. However, without any changes, all of the remaining unprotected natural shoreline areas along Okanagan Lake could be lost within the next generation or two,” Todd Cashin, the Regional District of Central Okanagan’s director of community services, said last June.