One of the only safe harbours on the east side of Okanagan Lake will continue its retrofit with a $150,000 funding announcement from the federal government.
Work will begin this fall to continue to improve the Okanagan Centre safe harbour, a break-water designed for boaters to hunker down in rough waters on Okanagan Lake.
It’s a much-needed safety measure on Okanagan Lake, the body of water responsible for more deaths of any other lake in B.C. each year, according to Robert Hobson, chairman of the Central Okanagan Regional District.
“The problem is Okanagan Lake can blow up in a storm very quickly and there are very few places for safe harbour,” said Hobson. “This is really the only safe place from Okanagan Centre to Kelowna and the storms can come in very bad. There is increased demand for boat facilities (on the lake) and this money will start the process of finishing this safe harbour.”
The breakwater, located in the Okanagan Centre Safe Harbour Regional Park, was initially built in the 1970s using wooden materials. For the past 15 years CORD has been working to update the structure with work on the south side already completed and the expected work on the north side set for completion this year.
“The wooden breakwater has been in place since the 1970’s and needs a major overhaul,” continued Hobson. “This funding will help partially replace the most seriously deteriorating portions of the north breakwater.”
While the safe harbour is located in Lake Country (along Okanagan Centre Road West), the breakwater is a benefit to all users of Okanagan Lake. And with boat traffic not decreasing any time soon, making the water safer for everyone is key, according to Lake Country mayor James Baker.
“This is an benefit for the whole region,” said Baker. “The harbour is full of boats in the summer. A lot of visitors come to this area and this will make the lake safer.”
In making the funding annoucement, minster Rempel said she is a frequent visitor to Lake Country and has enjoyed the region’s tourism opportunities. Being back to make an announcement that will make the lake safer was something she was happy to do.
“Usually as a politician you want to cut a ribbon or open up a rink but key pieces of infrastructure like this one are so important to a community,” she said. “(This is) safe and modern infrastructure that will benefit the residents of these communities for years to come.”
The funding was acquired under the federal government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund.