Council seeks public input to allow docks on Columbia Lake properties

About 10 people show up to public hearing to express favour or opposition

Canal Flats is considering rezoning to allow private docks on Columbia Lake.

The Village held a public hearing to seek public feedback on a proposal to change land use designation and rezone the properties located along Columbia Lake. A handful of people showed up to listen and express their opinions Monday, June 18th in Canal Flats Council chambers.

Prior to the public hearing, councillors Marie Delorme and Karl Stertzer recused themselves: Ms. Delorme because she is a property owner in the area under discussion, Mr. Stertzer said because of “perceived” conflict of interest.

Mayor Ute Juras spoke to the recusals, saying she did not believe either to be in conflict of interest, but due to “mumblings” in the community, the two councillors opted to step down. Councillors Paul Marcil and Erin Gornik were in attendance alongside Ms. Juras to listen to attendees.

During the informal portion of the public hearing, Canal Flats resident Jeff MacDonald asked about the village’s jurisdiction in Columbia Lake, with Ms. Juras confirming the Village does have jurisdiction into a portion of the lake. However, she said, “any kind of docks that will be built or planned to build, they still have to apply to the Province for tenure.”

That means if the Village passes approval, it is “not automatic” dock proposals would be approved at the provincial level.

Columere Park resident Dave Rae, whose son operates the marina at Columere Park, questioned if the Village considered reducing the number of docks by mandating adjacent lakefront properties share docks. Ms. Juras said they had not considered that.

For clarification, Sylvie Hoobanoff, Corporate Officer, reported that only waterfront properties would be allowed to have their own dock. Upland properties would share one dock in a designated area. Eagles Nest would allow three boats per dock, and Painted Ridge, five boats per dock.

Mr. Rae voiced his opposition to the rezoning because of the density.

“This is going against everything the town was opposed to previously, that they were opposed to with the rest of the lake, and now they’re trying to do it here,” said Mr. Rae, citing examples of rejected rezoning at Spirits Reach and a sailboat dock at Columbia Ridge.

Tricia MacDonald questioned why the upper rows of the new development should be allowed a communal dock.

“I understand that when you own lakefront property you’re entitled to a dock, that’s the value of buying a lakefront property. But people that live on the hill, they can see the lake, but why are they entitled to have a communal dock? I live in town. I pay my taxes, I use it all the time. How can I not have my own dock,” she asked hypothetically.

Nancy Wilson, representing the Columbia Lake Stewardship Society, requested Council hold off on voting until they can look at the entire lake in a comprehensive consultation process and with more information.

“You live in a beautiful area that’s incredibly sensitive. And it’s even more sensitive because Columbia Lake is so shallow,” said Ms. Wilson. “We need to look at the whole lake.”

Tracy Flynn also spoke on behalf of the Columbia Lake Stewardship Society.

“I ask you consider that what you’re proposing will affect the entire watershed,” said Ms. Flynn. “We hear all the time, ‘we don’t want Columbia Lake to be like Lake Windermere’, so how do we do that? That’s not an easy answer. We need to come together as communities and make that decision.”

Canal Flats resident Gilbert Delorme, who is a lakefront landowner, supports docks on the lake.

“I personally don’t see anything wrong with having a few docks on the lakefront,” said Mr. Delorme. “I would personally like to see all those houses built there, and increase our tax base.”

Fellow resident Dean Midyette agreed: “Each dock adds about $100,000 value as far as I can tell – taxable value – with tax dollars going back to the village, so we can support infrastructure here.”

Don Woods also supported the rezoning, saying the lakefront landowners would be the most vested in ensuring Columbia Lake does not turn into Lake Windermere.

“They have to have the same privileges as people who live on other lakes do in British Columbia,” said Mr. Woods.

Canal Flats Council was scheduled to give third reading to the amendment bylaw, No. 176, at the Council meeting Monday, June 25th.

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