Ducks Unlimited Canada has commended Kelowna city council for adopting the Kelowna 2030 Official Community Plan.
As a result of the new OCP, all watercourses, including wetlands, within the City of Kelowna are now recognized as development permit areas, adding further protection against being impacted, drained or filled.
The new OCP takes the necessary step of requiring a development permit for any activity within these at-risk natural areas.
“Mayor Sharon Shepherd and her council have shown tremendous environmental leadership in protecting the remaining 278 wetlands and waterways in their municipal boundary,” said Les Bogdan, DUC’s provincial manager in B.C.
“Wetlands play a critical role in water conservation, supplying and purifying community watersheds.”
DUC supported the city’s efforts as a funding source in addition to assisting City of Kelowna staff in commissioning and completing the Wetland Inventory, Classification and Mapping report.
The report prepared by Ecoscape Environmental Consultants in 2008 inventoried and mapped all 278 wetlands within the city.
This report also provided some of the fundamental information establishing the need to protect these natural areas.
The Okanagan is a region in B.C. with some of the highest risk for wetland loss due to rapid urban growth and increased competition for land for recreation, agriculture and industrial use, Bogdan says.
This had been compounded by years of channelling and diking along Okanagan rivers, resulting in the loss of 85 per cent of valley-bottom floodplains and marshes, he says.
“Conserving our wetlands is increasingly important not only for the wildlife that depend upon them, but also for the role they play in maintaining water quality and quantity for both current residents and future generations,” he said.
Landowners and contractors are encouraged to contact City of Kelowna staff prior to working near all watercourses in an effort to ensure their ongoing protection and enhancement.
The Wetland Inventory, Classification and Mapping report is available for viewing or download at: www.kelowna.ca/CM/Page2140.aspx