Not all cigar boats cause problems

No cigar boat ban on Okanagan Lake

Noise bylaw used to regulate water craft, not speed limit.

Despite wishful thinking on the part of some Shuswap Lake users, loud, speedy boats are not likely to be banned.

Contrary to a recent Observer story, cigar boats have not been prohibited from Okanagan Lake, they have simply been regulated through a noise bylaw, says Columbia Shuswap Regional District bylaw enforcement officer Tammy Jones.

Jones says the CSRD board asked her and fellow bylaw enforcement officer Leanne Robertson to look into how the boats are being dealt with on Okanagan Lake.

She says a noise bylaw is being used on Okanagan Lake to reduce the impact of the boats, something CSRD could look at doing either through a new noise bylaw or a good neighbour bylaw.

“If we were to entertain something, our bylaw would be specific to noise,” she says, noting there is no speed prohibition except in the channels or within 30 metres of the foreshore. “There are regulations in regards to causing erosion on the foreshore through the Environmental Management Act.”

RCMP and conservation enforcement officers do have some authority on the lakes with regards to safety and environment.

“If we bring in any kind of bylaw, we won’t regulate and our bylaw won’t mimic a task other organizations are doing,” Jones says. “What that’s going to look like is something we don’t know, but our bylaw will merely apply to a level of noise – unless of course our board asks us to do a bit more.”

But don’t look for the regional district to be able to do anything about excessive speed. There are no regulations regarding speed and any changes would require federal legislation.

“I almost think we have a couple of problem (boat) owners that are rip-roaring around the lake,” Jones says, noting the complaints come from a few areas where the boats are noisily starting up and idling rather than the ones that are blasting up and down the lake.

“It’s seasonal; they only stay for two weeks and then we don’t hear from that area until the following year. It seems to be 10 to 12 boats on the water that wreak havoc then leave.”

Jones says the noise bylaw and increased education seem to have helped reduce the number of cigar boats on Okanagan Lake. But whether that has caused an increase of the loud, powerful watercraft on Shuswap Lake is anyone’s guess.

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