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TOWN TOUGHENS ITS STANCE ON BOATING, MOORAGE WITH PROPOSED WATER ZONING BYLAW
OSOYOOS TIMES-March 10, 2010
By Laurena Weninger – Osoyoos Times
The Town of Osoyoos is ready to take more control of what is happening on Osoyoos Lake – and on March 15, the public will have an opportunity to give its opinion of a proposed water zone bylaw at a public hearing.
Osoyoos town council gave first reading to the bylaw on March 1.
“Water zoning will give the town the ability to be proactive in the management of moorage activities on Osoyoos Lake through enforcement, when required,” states a staff report by Steve Shannon, a community planner with the Town.
“The proliferation of boats, boat lifts and private moorage buoys on Osoyoos Lake has become a major concern for the Town and our current zoning bylaw provisions do not provide the regulatory strength to address the issue,” states the report.
Local governments have the authority to zone land, including the foreshore and surface of a body of water, and regulate the uses in those areas.
The proposed bylaw establishes three water use zones (W1, W2 and W3), removes existing commercial marina zoning and adds site-specific permitted uses to allow marinas at Lions Park, the Holiday Inn and the Safari Beach Resort.
It also includes a “definition” section which will be helpful to interpret the new bylaw, which distinguishes between terms like “moorage facility,” “group moorage facility” and “moorage structure.”
The foreshore areas on the map labelled W1 – which includes areas like the foreshore along Gyro Beach – will allow permitted uses including boating, boat lifts, group moorage facility, private moorage buoys, private moorage facilities, pier, recreational water activities and yacht club.
But it also includes sets of regulations for such activities.
For example, the maximum number of slips for a private moorage facility would be three.
A group moorage facility would limit slips to one per property and private property owners would only be allowed to have one private moorage buoy per adjacent waterfront parcel.
Private moorage buoys will not be permitted in front of public lands and commercial businesses like boat rentals would be permitted to operate from a pier.
The W2 zone addresses strata water use.
Permitted uses for this zoning include boating, recreational water activities and strata moorage facilities, but the zoning will provide the Town with greater powers in the approval process of future strata moorage applications – which would require a rezoning process.
The W3 zone has been created specifically for marinas.
There are three proposed W3 zones including the two existing marinas (Holiday Inn and Safari Beach) and the future joint venture marina between the Town and the Watermark Beach Resort for Lions Bay near the Lake Osoyoos Sailing Club headquarters.
The Town has also applied to the provincial Integrated Land Management Bureau for a Licence of Occupation for the foreshore and the portions of Osoyoos Lake which front publicly owned lands within the Town boundaries.
This will allow for stronger enforcement measures on the lake, states the staff report.
The report also states that council had asked staff to find out more about whether the Town can regulate the number and types of recreational watercraft and commercial businesses on the lake.
Town staff members requested a legal opinion on this question from the law firm of Young Anderson and were advised that there cannot be an overall limit on the number of boats on the lake.
But the regulation of recreational structures such as buoys and moorage facilities can affect the resulting use of the water.
“Only allowing commercial businesses such as the rental of boats to operate from a marina or a pier is one way of placing restrictions on the use,” states the report.
Implementation of the bylaw, if passed, won’t be all at once, Mayor Stu Wells pointed out at the council meeting on March 1.
He said the details in the bylaw are intended to be tools for the future and bringing current lake uses into compliance with the new law is going to be a gradual process, and, at least for a while, a voluntary one.
Members of the public will have their chance to speak out about the bylaw at the public hearing on March 15 at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Osoyoos Town Hall.