Posted on 29 February 2012 by admin
Everyone agrees Osoyoos Lake is this town’s greatest asset. All on town council and in the planning department nod their heads at this truth. Everyone says they will do what they can to protect the lake. But do they?
I presented a couple of options to protect the lake at an open meeting of council on Monday, Feb. 6. The first, which has received overwhelming support, judging by comments to the Osoyoos Times article online and in letters to the editor, suggested town council could limit the size of boat engines on the lake. Part of my plan included giving all boaters three to five years to adjust to preserving a safer, quieter, less polluted lake. Limiting engine size to 50 or 75 horsepower would have a dramatic impact on the lake and air around town, since one boat motor can foul the air more than 50 cars.
The research is unequivocal on the massive pollution effect of small (especially two-stroke) engines. This measure would reduce the pollution in the lake water and the air, to say nothing of the lessened noise and damage to the shorelines and the improved safety to families.
Enacting the first proposal would take time and co-operation among many levels of government and stakeholders.
We have seen with the proposed national park how easily authorities and representatives fold when stakeholders flex their muscles. Can we trust them to do the right thing? You be the judge.
The second initiative was more modest and eminently “doable” by town council and the planning department and that is to encourage more smaller-engine craft by rewarding smaller engine boats in the new lagoon marina.
I suggested using a formula that acknowledges the greater damage to the environment by boats powered by large motors. Large trucks pay a premium at weigh stations for the damage they do to our air and roads.
Set a fair docking fee with a formula something like horsepower x type of engine (with four-strokes, which pollute 90 per cent less than a corresponding two-stroke receiving a 50 per cent discount).
This could be revenue-neutral, so the town loses no income. For example, the town could charge a minimum fee of $1,000 and then calculate the horsepower levy, with $100 per 10 horsepower on top of that.
So someone with a 100 hp engine would pay $2,000 while a sailboat owner with a 6 hp would pay $1,100.
Town council has indicated they will not do what they can to protect the lake. Under the current new bylaw, the owner of a sailboat with a six-horsepower engine – used infrequently – would pay the same docking fee as a large cruiser boat, with twin 150 hp engines. Given the relative damage to the lake and our clean air, this makes no sense.
The prime question to keep in mind at all times is “what is in the best interests of the lake?”
I encourage the new marina operations bylaw reflects a green consciousness. Voters will remember those who fought for the lake when it mattered.