Okanagan Safe Harbour ‘unsafe’ says Lake Country councillors

Coun. Bill Scarrow and Coun. Penny Gambell voiced their concerns at the council meeting

Lake Country councillors were adamant that the Okanagan Safe Harbour, is actually “unsafe,” during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Coun. Bill Scarrow and Coun. Penny Gambell both voiced their concerns about the harbour being unable to provide boaters with a safe mooring location during a storm to Regional District of Central Okanagan director Murray Kopp during his presentation on regional parks.

“As a safe refuge, in the event of a storm, I think it functions quite well, in my humble opinion,” Kopp said.

“Some of the boaters I’ve spoken to disagree, they say the breakwater itself doesn’t prevent the waves from coming in and they feel that there’s no place to tie up and their only option is to pull up on shore, which I guess destroys boats too when the waves are coming in,” Scarrow said.

He suggested that the district provide tie-ups for boats.

“Right now that harbour is (being called) the un-safe harbour,” Scarrow said.

READ MORE: Lake Country residents call for change to Okanagan Safe Harbour

He said it’s a relatively easy fix.

However, Kopp said he believes boaters already have the ability to tie up in the event of a storm, and the district doesn’t want boaters to moor their boats at the harbour long term.

“We did not design in such a way for it to act as a mooring facility,” he said. However, he said the regional district can look at the suggestion of providing tie-up facilities.

Gambell said she hears negative comments about the harbour every time she visits Okanagan Centre.

She said she felt many of the discussions with the regional district “feel on deaf ears.”

“I’m even horrified to hear it cost us $926,000 and yet the community is grossly unhappy with the result,” Gambell said.

According to the presentation, more than $926,000 has been invested on improvements since 2001 and 2018 including the steel breakwaters, the construction of the courtesy dock, washrooms, a fishing pier and parking lot upgrades.

Gambell also noted that getting on and off the dock is difficult.

“Many people just don’t get out of the boat because it’s so difficult… it is not functioning appropriately and even worse in storms,” she said.

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