Green Bay property owners illustrate need for dredging project to mayor, councillors

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and a couple of councillors got a firsthand look at the problems surrounding Green Bay Tuesday.

Green Bay Property Owners' Association president Gary Gylytiuk measures the depth of the water in Green Bay Tuesday. The association is looking to dredge the bay

Although they declined the optional canoe ride, a few members of West Kelowna council made good on their promise to get a firsthand look at the issues surrounding Green Bay Tuesday.

Mayor Doug Findlater, Couns. David Knowles and Carol Zanon and chief administrative officer Jason Johnson accepted the offer from the Green Bay Property Owners’ Association to see how the bay has become infilled with waterborne sediments from the surrounding uplands.

Findlater said he was already aware of the issue, but the tour further illustrated how shallow the water is throughout the bay.

“I’d seen the problem from standing up on Boucherie Road. You can see the sedimentation at certain times happening and the discolouration of the water,” said Findlater.

“Now you see really how shallow it is down here—it is extremely shallow.”

Last month association president Gary Gylytiuk, along with director Jim Tait, asked the district for support in the group’s effort to create a local service area for the purpose of funding a dredging project in Green Bay.

The proposed dredging would create a 30-metre wide main channel that will stretch from the entrance of the bay to within 100 metres of the other shore, according to Tait. A secondary, 24-metre wide channel would also be created.

“I’ve noticed, every year, it’s more challenging to get in and out of the bay because the sediments keep building up,” said Tait, who has lived in the Green Bay area for six years.

“I’ve seen a couple of boats come into (the bay) during a windstorm—they come into the middle and they get stuck.”

The property owners’ association suggests the infilling of the bay is due to years of neglect

“Nothing has been done to stop the continuing sedimentation and pollution of Green Bay,” Tait told council last month.

The district is interested in gauging whether or not property owners are willing to pay a portion of the project.

“We asked the association to canvass their members to see what degree of support there is for making a substantial contribution from the residents,” said Findlater.

Tait said early indication shows a considerable level of support for the dredging plans.

“I think we’ve got 80 per cent in favour at this point—we still have some (surveys) that are not returned,” said Tait.

The association has received approval for the dredging of Green Bay from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, as well as Transport Canada.

The project is estimated to cost $360,000; the association has stated it is willing to pay one-third of that cost. They have proposed the rest of the bill should be paid by the local, provincial and/or federal governments.

Findlater said the district isn’t keen on putting local tax dollars into the project.

“We’ve got many higher priorities, but perhaps we can facilitate this for them with the (federal government) and the province,” said Findlater.

“We have to scale this against all of the other priorities in the district…we don’t have unlimited means.”

Tait said the property owners are looking for some sort of commitment from the district to support their efforts.

“If it means administering the local service area tax, that’s a big plus…not allowing interest to accrue, that’s another.”

He added the property owners were happy to see members of council get a close-up look at the problem.

“It’s important because when you see it in real life, you visualize it and they can get it in their mind. I think it was positive for them to come.”

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com