Proposed Zoning Changes on Columbia Lake

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Potential Changes to Zoning on Columbia Lake 

The Village of Canal Flats is proposing some changes to the bylaws governing the shores of Columbia Lake (CL).  They will be receiving written or verbal submissions regarding the proposed changes at a hearing on Monday June 18, at 6:30 pm. Copies of the proposed bylaw are available at the Village office.

The purpose of this article is to explain the bylaws and the proposed changes and Columbia Lake Stewardship Society’s position on the changes.

Zoning bylaws

Two local governments set the zoning bylaws that regulate the use of CL – the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and the Village of Canal Flats. The RDEK currently has 3 zones in place:

  1. CL-1 – The majority of CL with the exception of the zones below (Permitted uses: Winter fishing hut)
  2. CL-2 – (Community Amenity) – The lake areas fronting the communities of Columbia Ridge, Spirits Reach, and Columere – (Permitted uses: Dock/ Launch Ramp/ Swimming Platform- one per lease or licence of occupation, moorage- not overnight). 
  3. CL-3 – (Group Moorage) – Columere Park Marina – (Permitted uses: Dock/ Launch Ramp/ Swimming Platform – one per lease or licence of occupation: mooring buoy & moorage-  including overnight)

** All of the above zones allow recreational water activities, recreational buoys (such as those denoting water-skiing courses or marking swimming areas) and public access (the privilege to use the foreshore including the right to land boats and to disembark).  

The Village of Canal Flats has 2 water resource zones currently in place: 

  1. WR1 (Water Resource Zone) – The majority of CL in the Canal Flats area on the south end of CL, with the exception of the other zones outlined below. (Permitted uses: Moorage but not overnight)
  2. WR2 (Water Resource Community Zone) – Tilley Memorial Park and the old boat launch in the SW corner of the lake – (Permitted uses: Docks – recreational/ Launching ramps/ Swimming Raft – one per tenure agreement; Moorage but not overnight)

Canal Flats has proposed 3 additional zones (# 3, 4, and 5 below):

  1. WR3 (Water Residential Zone) – Shoreline band from Tilley Memorial Park north along east shore -Permitted uses: 1 dock per upland property – approximately 30 properties, Boat lift, Moorage to dock- including overnight, No mooring buoys or Launch ramps)
  2. WR4 (EN) (Water Private Community Zone) – 1 area in front of Eagles Nest Community (Group Moorage including overnight (3 boats per dock/1 dock per adjoining parcel), Boat lift, No mooring buoys or launch ramps)
  3. WR4 (PR) (Water Private Community Zone)-  Exact area in front of Painted Ridge Community to be determined – (Group Moorage including overnight (5 boats per dock/1 dock per adjoining parcel), Boat lift, No mooring buoys or launch ramps)

** All of the above zones allow recreational water activities and public access

If the proposed water resource zones are approved, docks in the new zones must also be consistent with Provincial Regulations.  Our initial investigation indicates that docks that fall in the WR3 zone would probably be deemed authorized by the provincial government without need for a formal application (assuming the dock is constructed and used in accordance with provincial regulations).  Docks that fall in either of the WR4 zones may require additional provincial authorization.

Columbia Lake Stewardship Society Position on Bylaw Changes

The Columbia Lake Stewardship Society is concerned that the placement of additional docks and allowing overnight moorage in all of the zones proposed has the potential to affect the ecological health of the lake.

We do, however, appreciate that boat launches will not be allowed in proposed WR – 3 and WR – 4 areas. This will help prevent the spread/introduction of invasive species.

CLSS feels that it is very important that a consistent management plan be developed and implemented for the lake prior to considering further development of the foreshore area.  The existing Columbia Lake Management plan is outdated (1997) and should be updated before decisions of the magnitude outlined in the proposed bylaw amendments are made. This would allow time for all interested parties to agree on a vision for lake use and for further scientific studies on the impact of increased infrastructure and use. The Lake Windermere Management plan (2008), although not specific to this lake, could be viewed as a template for future management. This document recommends shared community moorage vs individual docks and avoidance of overnight moorage on the lake, amongst other things.

To make sure we maintain CL in its current near pristine condition, it is important to let our policy makers know what we’d like to see and ask them to enforce policies that have been established. If changes are proposed to these policies, we should ensure that the changes maintain the condition of the lake.

The Columbia Lake Stewardship Society

(Columbialakess@shaw.ca)

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