The buoys are back in town

Watershed Wanderings column by Lake Windermere Ambassadors

Submitted by Georgia Peck, program coordinator for the Lake Windermere Ambassadors

Since the summer of 2018, Taynton Bay has looked a little different to the visitors and residents of Lake Windermere. Three information buoys, each labeled “Slow, No-Wake Zone” have set up camp at the mouth of the bay for two consecutive years and are about to be reinstalled for a third year. The buoys serve as a reminder to boaters that this section of the lake is a designated slow, no-wake zone, as per the Lake Windermere Management Plan (2011), put in place to ensure boats travel at a low speed and control their steering to reduce the waves produced behind them. Slow, no-wake zones are not only in place to protect swimmers and boaters, but also to protect the sensitive habitat shorelines provide to plants and wildlife. Heavy wakes can cause bank erosion, which, in turn, causes vegetation to wash out, leading to habitat loss and degradation. Furthermore, increased turbulence can impact the sediments suspended in the water, disrupting water quality and the important biological processes that depend on it.

Feedback from this project has been overwhelmingly positive, with 86 per cent of anonymous surveyors stating they are “very satisfied” with the buoys and are thrilled to see a safer and more protected bay for all visitors and residents to enjoy. This project could not have been achieved without the support from community donors, who helped contribute in raising the necessary funds to purchase and install all three buoys. However, in 2019 we acknowledged the buoys were spread too far apart, limiting visibility and awareness of the slow, no-wake zone, and leading to an occasional lack of compliance. An anonymous respondent stated: “They are good, however they are too few and far apart. Boaters that are new to the lake and don’t know the area often miss them because there is too much distance between them to know that it’s actually a no-wake zone.” This opinion seems to be shared amongst surveyors, seeing as 57 per cent of people agreed with this statement and believe there are not enough buoys to be effective.

To combat this issue, the Lake Management Committee, made up of community members and representatives of the board of the Lake Windermere Ambassadors, is pursuing the purchase and installation of three additional information buoys to the mouth of Taynton Bay to help strengthen the message to boaters. Installing the additional buoys will not exclude motorized boats from accessing the bay, but merely serve as a greater reminder to slow down and drive with caution when sharing the water with swimmers, paddlers and other boats. The Ambassadors hope that additional buoys will provide an extra warning to boaters to proceed with caution when entering the bay and to be aware of other people enjoying the water.

In addition to increasing visibility of the buoys, the Ambassadors plan to increase public outreach and education to help inform the public about the buoys’ existence and their importance in Taynton Bay. Virtual outreach looks like our reality for the time being, so keep an eye out for more publications online and in the Pioneer. If this project has had a positive impact on your ability to enjoy Lake Windermere and you’d like to support it, please reach out to the Lake Windermere Ambassadors for ways you can help.

Georgia Peck is the program coordinator for the Lake Windermere Ambassadors. Email her at info@lakeambassadors.ca or call the office at 250-341-6898.

File photo

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