Letter: All boaters should thank houseboat litigant

[Houseboat owner] was successful in establishing boater’s rights to reasonable moorage.

To the editor:

As co-counsel on behalf of houseboat owner Keith Newcomb I would like to set the record straight.

The District of West Kelowna sought an injunction prohibiting any moorage in the waters of West Kelowna. Had Mr. Newcomb not defended the action there would have been no right to moor in the waters of West Kelowna unless you are the owner  of the upland parcel of land. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of boaters navigate these waters on a yearly basis and moorage is a fundamental right of navigation.

Although Mr. Newcomb was not successful in his argument that moorage was exclusively within federal jurisdiction he was successful in establishing boater’s rights to reasonable moorage.

In the words of Madam Justice McKenzie of the Court of Appeal: “Although I agree that Mr. Newcomb did not meet the test for public interest litigation, his partial success in defending the action with respect to those who wish to moor within the W1 Zone (West Kelowna waters) was significant. I consider success was therefor divided and the judge erred in determining the District was the successful party in this litigation. In the result I make no order as to costs.”

In my view boaters who navigate the waters of Okanagan Lake should raise their glasses in a toast to Mr. Newcomb.

 

Walley Lightbody, Kelowna

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