Watershed Wanderings

Lake Windermere Ambassadors to focus on prioritizing public access

Submitted by Shannon McGinty, program coordinator, and Georgia Peck, acting program coordinator for the Lake Windermere Ambassadors. Email them at info@lakeambassadors.ca or call the office at 250-341-6898.

The days are getting longer and warmer and this has the Ambassadors thinking more and more about all the ways to enjoy Lake Windermere. Hopefully, in a few months you will find many people heading to Kinsmen Beach, James Chabot Provincial Park, and Windermere Beach – but is that it for places you can enjoy the lake? Not exactly, there are other spots that you may have never even suspected…

Dating back to the legal systems of Ancient Rome, the “public trust doctrine” is a principle which states that certain resources (like air, sea, waters, and forests) have such great importance to the public as a whole that the government must protect and maintain these resources for the public’s use. Ninety four per cent of the land in British Columbia is provincial Crown Land, two per cent of which is covered by freshwater. Crown Land is public land which falls under the umbrella of this public trust doctrine.

On Lake Windermere, Crown Land begins at the average high-water line, and extends down to include the bottom of the lake. This means the land below the high-water line is public access, and any waterfront property owners must provide safe passage to walk around the entire lake, with the exception of the few that have applied for provincial leases granting them rights to this area.

In addition to this walking path along the shoreline, there are 22 ministry of transport public access sites, most of them falling on the east side of Lake Windermere. These ministry sites vary in size and condition. Some are accessible from both the road and water, while others are only accessible by water. What do they all have in common? Most of them are unknown to the general public!

To ensure that this information is available to all, the Lake Windermere Ambassadors have decided to take on a project to revitalize these sites. Starting this summer, and continuing over the next few years, we hope to have a couple of these sites cleaned up with signage added until they are easily identified for users.

We plan to take on the first site at the northernmost end of Lake Windermere and have it ready to use this summer. Once we have finished that we will be looking for organizations, businesses, and community members to volunteer and take on the clean up of additional sites. The Ambassadors will supply all signage materials and provide assistance in removal of any debris necessary, but hope to find passionate volunteers to help improve the condition of our shorelines.

The goals of this project are as follows:

Improve public awareness of public access sites on Lake Windermere from the water, and where appropriate, roadside.

Clean up and rehabilitate shorelines where applicable.

Create a sense of community and pride on Lake Windermere.

We look forward to sharing more on this project with you as we head into the spring season. If you are interested in being a part of this project, please connect with us using the contact information found below.

Feel free to contribute to this conversation on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @LakeAmbassadors.

The Lake Windermere Ambassadors would like to thank BC Gaming Grants, Canada Summer Jobs, Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, District of Invermere, Lush Charity Pot, Real Estate Foundation, and Regional District of East Kootenay for supporting our 2020 programming.

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