Marina cause water pollution

Dear Editor:

There are so many questions and issues raised by the Skaha Marina proposal that I hardly know where to start. So much of the proposal has nothing to do with building and operating a marina.

It seems to me to allow a private developer to build a “for profit” operation on city-owned (public) park land is inherently a very bad idea. I refer here to their proposed waterslide.   The park already has a free water attraction for kids built by Rotary. I wonder how interested Rotary will be in the future to contribute to Penticton if they know their project might disappear to allow a developer access to public land.

Another issue concerns the proponent’s plans for a beer and wine outlet: it is illegal to operate a watercraft under the influence of alcohol and it is also illegal to consume alcohol in a public place (i.e. the beach) and furthermore there is already an outlet less than one km away on Skaha Lake Road. It strikes me as totally inappropriate. Would we allow car rental companies to open wine and beer outlets as part of their operations? (Full disclosure: I drink wine and other alcoholic beverages!)

As to the marina proposal itself, a number of issues arise concerning the large increase in the number of boats to be berthed.  It is widely accepted that marinas are a significant source of pollution, including but not limited to, the gasoline used by the boats.  Skaha Lake is not owned by Penticton – it is a significant resource for a much broader community. Kaleden, Heritage Hills, and Skaha Estates get their domestic and agricultural water from the lake and I suspect that much of Okanagan Falls’ water is also lake water as their community wells are generally pretty shallow.

Recently the local First Nations have been having considerable success bringing sockeye salmon back to the Okanagan River and Skaha Lake. It seems to me that an increase in water pollution associated with a marina should be looked at very, very thoughtfully.  Water pollution associated with marinas should not be dismissed lightly.  At the very least, the proponents should be required to adhere to the guidelines published by Environment Canada and several U.S. agencies that are meant to prevent pollution, not mitigate it.

Just a few of the questions that need to be asked:

  • Will there be a pump-out station for those boats that have waste systems?
  • Will there be a separate fuel station for personal watercraft (much of what I’ve read says PWC’s require a separate area)?
  • Will there be maintenance
  • allowed at the marina and if so, will there be a waste disposal system for used oil, marine cleaning fluids, etc.?
  • Will there be a limitation on the types of boats allowed on Skaha Lake or will we end up with the large noisy boats that often roar up and down Okanagan Lake? I refer to “cigarette boats”, not ordinary skiing boats. Skaha Lake is after all a pretty small lake and its shores are fairly densely populated compared to much of Okanagan Lake.

I suggest that Pentictonites and their council should really rethink this matter.

Robert Handfield