Docks submerged by a rising Okanagan Lake. - Image: Ian Jensen/Morning Star

Letter: Flooding, sandbags and dog parks

The federal government must accept its responsibility to keep the lake safe for boating

To the editor:

For about a month now, I have been watching sandbags being delivered to lakefront properties on Abbott Street, just south of Kinsmen Park. It has become an evening pastime for locals to walk or cycle to Kinsmen Park and view the disaster. Only the ducks are happy as they feast on drowned earthworms in the park.

This evening, on hearing my neighbour filling more sandbags on his driveway, I went to speak with him and offer help. My neighbours have been particularly kind clearing snow off my driveway and sidewalk so I wanted to commiserate with their plight. The side of their house was already ankle-deep in water, so I was led me through the house to see the back garden, or what had once been a garden. The murky water reached up to the back porch steps, having seeped under a wall of sandbags which reminded me of photos of WWI trenches. Clearly the wall of sandbags at the bottom of the garden had not held back the water. Their dock had been swept away in an earlier storm.

Aside from providing free sand and bags, is there anything else the City of Kelowna could do to help flood victims? Lakefront properties are not visible from the road, and so the public is unaware of the misery residents are enduring. If the lake is under federal jurisdiction, could the City of Kelowna not enlist the help of the federal government? Maybe helping flood victims of Kelowna would be money better spent by Ottawa than a giant rubber duck?

I found a lovely piece of driftwood on one of my visits to Kinsmen Park this week. Unfortunately, broken docks and large trees do not wash up conveniently for the parks staff to remove. These large submerged docks, boats or other objects need to be collected and placed temporarily on public beaches.

This is work that should start immediately, and the federal government must accept its responsibility to keep the lake safe for boating later in the summer. Why wait for someone to be killed while water-skiing or boating?

To end on a positive note, the Mission Dog Park is looking great this spring, with no sign of flooding. The city’s effort to prevent frequent spring flooding onto the Greenway trails have succeeded to keep the area safe from flooding, and the dog park’s conditions has been an unintended beneficiary as well. Thank you City of Kelowna.

We now need another success: keeping the lake safe for recreational use, and offer lakefront property owners a rebate on their 2017 taxes.

Helen Schiele, Kelowna