Dock rebuild provides opportunity for public lakeshore access, says mayor

Docks, fences and walls must not block pedestrian access from the high to the low water mark

With the level of Okanagan Lake slowly starting to recede Kelowna’s mayor says flood watch officials are starting to plan for recovery.

Colin Basran said Monday that plan includes calling on the province to deal with the rebuilding of docks, wharves, fences and walls on the lakeshore that will keep it open to the public as much as possible.

Basran said while he is aware there are a few lakeshore residents whose properties extend all the way into the lake, most do not and he wants the province, whose jurisdiction it is to govern docks and wharves on Okanagan Lake, to make sure the ones lost in recent flooding are replaced in a proper manner.

For years the public has complained about a lack of public access to parts of the lakeshore where property owners have illegally built structures that impede public access to the lakeshore in front of their homes.

“The province’s licence of occupation states docks, fences and walls must not block pedestrian access from the high water mark to the low water mark,” said Basran Monday following council’s meeting.

He said while it will be several weeks before any reconstruction can begin, he wanted to contact to the province now to make sure it provided residents replacing docks with the proper information.

“I’m hearing from a lot of people about what they want to see happen,” said Basran.

The issue is handled by the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Its minister is currently Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson.

In addition to wanting to keep as much of the lakeshore open to the public as possible, Basran also addressed another issue he said he has been hearing about on social media—a desire to see the city build a lengthy promenade or walkway along the lakeshore.

“If there is an expectation at this point in our community that there is going to be a community boardwalk along the entire waterfront, that is completely false,” said Basran.

He said there are no plans for such a project and the city does not have the money to do it.

“It has not been budgeted for, and it is nowhere in our plans. It’s not something council has even been discussing.”

In recent days, the lake level has appeared to start to recede. But officials with the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre say because the level is about 70 centimetres higher than its typical high level, and only a limited about of water can be released per day, it will be several weeks before it returns to a normal level.

Still, some recovery work has been started with the removal of sandbags in some areas.

Despite that, the EOC is continuing to urge residents who have sandbag flood protection is place to leave it there for now.