Houseboats moored in Sutherland Bay got their notice to vacate from the city of Kelowna a couple of weeks ago. They were supposed to be gone by Feb. 28.

Houseboats get the boot from Sutherland Bay

Houseboats moored on Okanagan Lake have once again turned the head of local government, this time earning notices of trespass and non-compliance from Kelowna.

“We issued them around 16 days ago,” said Rob Mayne, the City of Kelowna’s director of corporate services, adding the notices followed noise complaints from area residents.

“There were a few boats we issued notices to before. We’ve been pursuing this for several years, and this is just a new tool.”

Four boats were evicted for mooring in waters that are zoned within the city, where no permanent moorage is allowed.

Another 10 boats, outside those parameters, were notified of the fact they were in waters where no overnight moorage is allowed, except in cases where a federal licence has been issued.

The deadline to move was up Feb. 28, and while only one left the area by Wednesday, Mayne said the city won’t be taking any drastic measures to enforce compliance among the rest.

“Rather than towing them, we’re trying to get in contact with the owners and explaining the issue, so we can get voluntary compliance,” he said, adding they want to “educate” boat owners.

While the city is taking a new tack, it’s not the first time houseboats have become an issue requiring government intervention. For the last few years they’ve basically been playing musical chairs in various sheltered areas around Okanagan Lake, pushing governments into action when complaints rolled in.

To deal with the issue in West Kelowna, a bylaw amendment was adopted, giving it more control of Okanagan Lake’s foreshore. In late 2009, it put limits on private moorage and by the following summer boats were forced to move, opting to make their way back to Sutherland Bay.

While the houseboats seem to continually gravitate toward spots they’re not welcome, Mayne acknowledged there are few options.

“The city is recognizing that there’s a shortfall of moorage, and we’re working to address that as well,” he said. “We’ve studied what moorage capacity there is on the lake and we’re working with other municipalities to master-plan future moorage areas.”