Letter: Lake homeowners holds foreshore rights

…Lakeshore owners do have foreshore rights…Unlike a totalitarian or communistic society…

To the editor:

It appears that a particular member of our community is anxious to promote unlawful occupation of private lakeshore on the basis of a self-declaration that it somehow “belongs to all of us.” The next logical step is to encourage the homeless to take up residence on our front sidewalks and lawns.

Contrary to a recent vitriolic letter to the editor [Kelowna Shoreline Available To All, June 22 Kelowna Capital News], lakeshore owners do have foreshore rights,  unless those rights have been purchased or legally expropriated for public purpose, Such rights are basic to a strong community. Unlike a totalitarian or communistic society, our values are essentially based upon private ownership..

Unfortunately, the published comments of Mr. Janusas are misinformed and inflammatory. Inciting people to trespass over the property of others reflects ‘green eyed envy, ‘ pitting the have notsagainst the haves, and neighbour against neighbour.

What is the law as to public access to foreshore within our city limits?

The truth is that the law is, at best, muddled, uncertain and unenforceable.

Older laws were based upon tidal waters and shorelines subject to seasonal flows governed by natural forces.

Now, ‘high’ and ‘low’ water marks are no longer identifiable. Okanagan Lake is not tidal water. With controlling locks at both ends, it is subject to man-made interference of natural flow. Manipulation of water volumes to fulfill downstream treaties has made demarcation of ‘high’ or ‘low’ shoreline water margins meaningless.

Under a dictatorial government, the simple answer would be to open the locks, and drain the entire lake to expose an extra 20 foot public walkway area around the entire lake. But, so much for individual rights!

Hopefully, with a better understanding of values and greater mutual respect as to property rights, we can work together on this problem of public need and individual rights.

It should be recognized that our city has already undertaken some positive action in this matter. Following the initiating leadership of mayors Shepherd and Gray, a commendable ‘buy back’ of shoreline properties has been set in motion for some time now. Fair prices are negotiated under voluntary sales. Such purchases have facilitated public park extensions. Some have been subdivided for re-sale, with the city keeping the shoreline portion to facilitate public access.

While opposed to trespass, I do not make light of the need for more public access to our lake. There is particularly a need for more lakeshore parks. But, please, let’s be good neighbours. Let’s promote a plan of lawful and fair acquisition. Let’s maintain clear respect and protection of private property rights.

Ian R. Sisett, Kelowna