The Lake Windermere Management Plan has been adopted by both the Regional District of East Kootenay and the District of Invermere after a two-year consultation process that included 10 different drafts of the plan.

The document is designed to guide long-term management decisions concerning shoreline development, boat activity, and the ecological health of Lake Windermere, with an attempt to balance recreational and private ownership concerns. The final draft of the plan is the result of public consultation and input from ecological surveys, local governments and First Nations.

I think weve reached something really great here, Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft said at a February 4th Regional District East Kootenay meeting. Now we need to work hard on the implementation of this plan.

It is estimated that the plan will take between 200 and 600 hours annually to implement. This time will be divided by District of Invermere staff and volunteer groups, like the Lake Windermere Ambassadors.

A key to successfully integrating the new Lake Windermere Management Plan will be public input and consultation, Invermeres Chief Administrative Officer Chris Prosser stressed.

Elements of the new plan are sure to be contentious moving forward, including a shift of focus to more public and non-motorized use on the lake, reducing motorboating at peak times, and pushing for fewer motorboats to be kept on the lake to allow fuller enjoyment of its natural beauty.

Councillor Bob Campsall, who said theres a lack of understanding of just how developed the lake is, added, I want people to remember this is a living document. Nothing is written in stone and there will be lots of discussion and changes moving forward.

In order for this plan to succeed, there needs to be continued commitment from the District of Invermere, the Regional District, the Lake Windermere Ambassadors, and local First Nations, said Heather Leschied of Invermeres Wildsight branch. I think that there will also need to be a focus on resources allocated to implementing the plan.

The new plan will help guide the District of Invermere in 2012 when the map reserve that restricts new applications for docks and marinas expires. Mayor Taft said he expects the town to receive a large number of pending applications for new docks and marinas.

Moving forward, its not entirely clear how the Lake Windermere Management Plan will affect the largely undeveloped land of the Akisqnuk First Nations that borders the lake.

Weve really yet to see what will play out. In the future this land is going to be a huge part of what happens on the lake. Really, its the only undisturbed section, Mayor Gerry Taft said. Its a sleeping giant.