Staff is recommending that District of Lake Country councillors support the Okanagan Lake Protection Strategy, although they are wary some residents may not be in favour, with the plan including some restrictions on future foreshore development.
The goal of Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program’s strategy identifies policy, regulations and best practices to enhance shoreline management to protect water quality and environmental values of the lake.
The strategy is in line with council’s goals and efforts for the foreshore to protect, preserve and enhance the natural environment while minimizing the effect on the environment in new development.
“The Okanagan is the most biologically diverse region in the country and has the most endangered species,” the report reads. “Many species (are) dependent on the ecology that is supported by the lakes in the region including Okanagan Lake.”
In 2016, the foreshore inventory mapping illustrated significant, cumulative losses of natural shoreline areas due in part to development. Its consequences are not only ecological but also economical as it effects opportunities to attract investment to the region.
The foreshor inventory showed protection in the Okanagan “has not been overly successful to date,” so working toward a multi-jurisdiction policy could change this in the future.
The lake, which is not only a source of drinking water, is vital to the region’s tourism industry and habitat. Supporting this kind of strategy could establish a framework to protect the waters in the long term.
Staff recommends council pen a letter in support of the strategy to the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program.
Further discussion with council and the public regarding the initiative will take place as this only the first phase of a multi-phased process. Phase 1 will see engagement between community partners, stakeholders and First Nations groups to establish support for a region-wide model.
District of Lake Country councillors were to consider this at their July 15 meeting.