To the editor:
After 35 years of advising industry and governments on environmental protection measures, I must speak up and criticize both Premier Clark and the City of Kelowna for their ineffective oversight to protect aquatic resources in Okanagan Lake (Cap News March 31, 2017).
First, the Premier allowed Stephen Thompson, her Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations to remove a 15-metre setback restriction from the land title for the Queensway jetty site to enable the City of Kelowna and Tourism Kelowna to construct a visitor centre building, patios, walkways and roof overhangs that encroach well into an undisturbed, vegetated 15-metre riparian zone required by federal authorities to protect fish, wildlife and water quality.
This poor decision is only one of many that have been made in recent years that continues the incremental loss of shore zone ecosystems on Okanagan Lake and reduces lake water quality.
Second, Ms. Clark and Mr. Thompson have ineffectively addressed the much larger and very real threat of invasive mussels entering the lake’s ecosystem. Despite recent headlines and bags of money they have thrown at the problem for the coming election, they have not implemented what other jurisdictions, like California, have done to ensure 24-hour boat inspections at every boat launch in the state’s water reservoirs.
As the Premier noted, boat inspection costs are small compared to the potential annual $43 million cost to manage the problem once mussels become established here. But she is not inspecting every boat. The city and other local governments need to speak up with a loud and unified voice to ensure boat inspection stations are established at every point of entry to the lake. Anything less is inexcusable.
Ignoring small problems before an election only creates more costly, larger ones for taxpayers to fix afterwards.
Richard Drinnan, Kelowna