Sunday, August 14, 2011

Some comments about fairness.

The following Anonymous comment was received in response to some of my comments (see Selected Articles, scan 1) which requires clarifications. Below is the comment and my response.

"You say most people strive for fairness? How fair is it that a small group of people who live near the lake and do not have to drive there to enjoy it can make the decision that others must pay to enjoy the lake. This is a bad idea which will cost the taxpayers of Coldstream even more money than the failed boat launch study which this same group initiated then rejected when it did not turn out their way. It is time for the politicians of this area to act for ALL that voted them in and not just a small special interest group. Do the math (failed boat study $40,000, parking meters who knows how much more) try spending our money on a crosswalk to help people get from the beach parking lot to the beach without being run over. The Kalavista Committee has not addressed this issue at all even though they claim to be making decisions in this area for us all. They care more about a few turtles that our kids and would rather see a safe turtle crossing built before a safe pedestrian crossing is put in. I and others are tired of our council pandering to one small section of our community. I voted for you now do the right thing and represent me..don't make me pay to park near the lake."

Thank you for your comments and for your vote. Be assured that I do represent you as much as I represent all of the taxpayers of Coldstream and I want everyone treated fairly. However, fairness means different things to different people.

The small group of people do not make the decisions about paying for enjoying the lake. Politicians make that decision based on evidence presented to them. As one member of Council I wish to explain my thought processes in making my decision on this issue.

The issue: We have a conflict between the residents living in the neighbourhood of the boat launch and boat owners wishing to launch their boat at said boat launch. Boat owners are competing for spaces at the parking lot and an opportunity to launch their boats. Residents wish to live in peace and quiet and want to access their properties in peace and without harassment. Is there a fair resolution?

Considerations: The first consideration is that the residents are stationary: they cannot pack up and move their homes. The boat owners move their boats to the launch so it is easier for them to move to another launching site located at Kekuli Bay. Parking there is free and there are no residents to inconvenience. The better alternative is obvious.

Another issue is the congestion at the north end of Kalamalka Lake. All sorts of water related activities are concentrated in this relatively small area, including swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, etc. These activities are not very compatible with large power boats. Kekuli Bay is much better suited for these large crafts.

Parking meter issues. According to the boat launch study there are over 20,000 boat owners in the greater Vernon area. Total number of parking spaces is about 30. Obviously, there is huge competition for those parking spaces. Installation of a parking meter would allow Greater Vernon residents to obtain preferential rates and provide an incentive for boat owners to drive to Kekuli Bay where the parking is free. The revenue would help offsetting the cost of hiring the Commissioners who maintain order at the boat launch. Parking fees are a fact of life.

Boat owners also have a vested interest just like the residents. They also have a responsibility to investigate accessibility to the lake and availability of parking their trailers prior to purchasing their boats. Kalamalka Lake has an issue of easy access due to prior residential developments which would be difficult to reverse. We have to make the best with what we have. As a Director of the Regional District in the past I supported the development of the Kekuli Bay camp grounds and boat launch area in order to provide alternate access to the lake. I also supported the expansion of that boat launch last year as a Director of GVAC. If there are other viable and fair options available I am willing to listen.



Anonymous said...

The launch at Kekuli is also very busy and often full. Not to mention turning off and on a very dangerous stretch of highway which is very well known for serious accidents and fatalities. Vernon parks is currently purchasing properties that come available along Lakeshore road to ensure public access to Okanakgan Lake. Why doesn't GVRD look also at purchasing the properties over time along Kalavista from the boat launch back to Alexanders. There are four or five older homes in the area and the current owners don't seem to like how busy that area is and may enjoy moving to a quieter area. We could block off Kalavista from the launch back and turn it in to a nice park with a grassy picnic area and proper launching facilities for all user groups. The north end of the lake could be deemed a quiet/no wake zone and boaters could be encouraged to go out of this area to pull tubes and wake boards as they would be under the no wake rule. This zone could be put in place with pylons closer to park from shore to shore marking a no wakezone in the north end. Everyone says this is not possible but it is being done at Okanagan Lake. We have to think 50 years down the road and public access for eveyone not just those fortunate enough to live near the lake must be ensured. Coldstream keeps claiming they started the parks review to gain control of a few parks so they could control maintenance better. It is fairly obvious that this was started to gain control of a few parks including the Kalavista parks so they could do whatever one of their special interest committee's wanted to do without any public contention. In a document of the Kalavista Committee it states that a reasonable fee would be $25 dollars a day to use the boat parking lot for anybody without a season's pass. Coldstream politicians still state that our area does not benefit from tourism. Where do you think the bulk of Coldstream taxpayers work? They work in businesses in Vernon of which every single one of them benefits directly or indirectly from tourism and the bust summer months.

Lets put aside our differences and work as a community to come up with some solutions that we all can live with. Leaving this up to a biased neighborhood committee and a council which has publicly stated their anti-boating stance is just not fair. We need public meetings and forums on this issue and some transparency.

Greg Ockert said...

On the issue of paying to park/launch a boat I offer the following comments. Chestermere Lake (just east of Calgary), or Chesterslough as the locals call it, is a popular lake for motorized and non-motorized watercraft.The Municipality of Chestermere long ago developed a bylaw to deal with the pressures on the small lake and the community. Residents must place an annual free decal on their boats (you can have more than one boat), and non-residents must pay a launch fee ($40/day for power boats over 10hp, $30/day for personal watercraft, and $10/day for kayaks/ under 10hp etc). An attendant supervises the launch area, accepts payment, and inspects decals. No decal and you pay as a non-resident. No mechanical meters to fail or vandalize, cash only at the launch. I'm not sure of how ample the parking is.

Anonymous said...

We are hardly comparing the same thing here. Chestermere lake is very small, a slough as you called it. Kalamalka Lake is a large lake (originally called long lake)and until this recent council,the Kalavista committee and Sparkle were formed, was enjoyed by residents and tourist with very few problems. Your current group has a definate agenda to elimate power boats from Kalamalka Lake and make it an unpleasant place for both local boaters and tourist to visit. Congratulations you are succeeding as I have spoken to many tourist who find the numerous no boat and trailer parking signs both offensive and anti-tourist slanted. Keep up the good work and enjoy your sailboat on whatever lake you choose to use(probably for free!)

Greg Ockert said...

To the last anonymous comment. You are right in your assertion that Chestermere is a much smaller lake than Kalamalka. My point was merely to illustrate what results when boating pressure exceeds capacity (Kalavista)....usually .taxpayers are given priority over tourists, as is the case at Chestermere and many other launches. To state that there were "very few problems" before the present council is not based in fact, and I would invite you to peruse prior council agendas to this end (expanded parking, talk of tennis court relocation, utter confusion at the launch etc.) I can tell you that the Society For the Protection of Kalamalka Lake has no agenda to remove power boats from Kal Lake, nor would they have authority to do so. Many members live on or near the lake and enjoy many forms of boating, including power boating and use the Kalavista launch. SPKL's main focus has been improving riparian areas along Coldstream Creek and bringing focus to improving the delivery of pollution free water to Kalamalka Lake. You are more than welcome to join this group and have your comments heard!

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The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

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About Me

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.