Today the BC Court of Appeal upheld the Supreme Court of BC’s decision that the District of West Kelowna was within its legal right to establish and enforce its Water Zone, which includes the ability to regulate moorage of houseboats and other vessels within its boundaries.
“This is great news for the municipality and its residents who fought a long battle to protect and preserve our precious Gellatly Bay and other waters like Casa Loma, from what we consider inappropriate use,” said Mayor Doug Findlater. “This is a landmark decision that upholds the rights of municipalities like ours to manage our waterfronts and ensure that some users do not take advantage of any of our waters.”
Shortly after incorporation, the long-time moorage of approximately 13 houseboats in Gellatly Bay was one of the first significant issues raised by the public to West Kelowna Council. The municipality worked to establish a W1 Zone – Water use Recreational – and a Joint Management Agreement for Gellatly Bay with Westbank First Nation. The District also received a Licence of Occupation for the Province of BC for Gellatly Bay, all in order to pursue appropriate enforcement of the appropriate use along West Kelowna’s waterfront.
In June and July 2010, the District began enforcement of its W1 Zone and Licence of Occupation and gave notice to houseboat owners that permanent mooring buoys in Gellalty Bay were not allowed, nor was moorage for more than a 24 hour period.
Shortly after enforcement began, the municipality was served with notice that a houseboat owner was taking the municipality to court over its enforcement of the W1 Zone. In August 2013, the District received the Supreme Court of BC decision that the municipality was within its legal right to order the removal of moored houseboats from Gellatly Bay and that the houseboat owner, who had relocated to other waters within the District’s W1 Zone, had breached the provisions of the District’s zoning regulations.