2016-17 was again a busy year for SWOA. The Shuswap Watershed council, the CSRD, new Provincial Moorage Regulations and tracking issues related to invasive species as well as assisting members with dock and waterfront issues kept us busy throughout the year.
One tragic event occurred in the fall – a new member of the SWOA Board, Al Cappis, lost his life in a motorcycle accident in Arizona. We were very much looking forward to Al’s contributions to the organization and he is sorely missed.
Monitoring the activities of the Shuswap Watershed Council(SWC) and specifically their progress on water quality issues remains a focus of the SWOA. SWC appears to be focusing on coordinating the collection of water quality data throughout the watershed and on working with researchers from UBC Okanagan on both the sources and effects of agricultural nutrient inputs to Mara and Shuswap Lake. We were expecting a draft water quality report to be submitted to the SWC in the spring but this has now been delayed to the fall of 2017. A draft progress report on the research work is also expected in the fall. We will keep the membership apprised of the findings as they are released.
One of the issues that we continue to track is the defensive measures being undertaken by the Provincial government to prevent the introduction of Quagga or Zebra mussels into BC and in particular the Shuswap Watershed from eastern Canada or the United States. SWOA is supportive of these activities and have lobbied the Provincial government in support of their work. SWOA also encourages all our members to be vigilant in identifying any activities that could result in the introduction of these species into our watershed.
At the last AGM, we reported that we had not been successful in receiving funding for our research project on the effects of docks and foreshore modifications on fish and fish habitat. The Board attempted to identify potential funding sources but with the postponement of the research until 2018 at the earliest (due to the availability of the TRU researchers) the project was put on hold. With the Provincial government introducing the new dock regulations (see below), this project is less likely to proceed in the future.
As reported last year, SWOA was not expecting the Provincial government to introduce any revisions to the Provincial Moorage regulations until after the May election. However, in January of 2017, the government released an updated “General Permission for the Use of Crown Land for Private Moorage”. These simplify the process for permitting a dock as long as certain conditions are met. We have been hoping that the CSRD would adopt these regulations into Bylaw 900, thus simplifying permitting a dock at the local level. However, the CSRD has strongly opposed the adoption of these regulations. We are continuing to monitor discussions between the CSRD and the Ministry on this topic.
In 2016 the issue of additional tax folios for foreshore leases and registered docks was identified. The issue of concern is the possibility of double taxation for parcel taxes. To date, the matter has bounced back and fourth between the Provincial Assessment Authority and the CSRD. We will continue to monitor the issue as the new assessments and tax notices come out in 2018.
We continue to work hard for our members. In the past year we have responded to requests for help with dock and buoy issues and assisting members with alternate approaches to issues they identify. We also continue to publish our newsletter monthly in the spring summer and fall to keep our members informed of evolving issues. We continue to work on maintaining and upgrading our website to make access simpler for our members and allow access to information stored on the website.
For SWOA to effectively deal with the various levels of government and for SWOA to remain a strong advocate for it's members we need to continue to grow our numbers. The best way to do this is through word of mouth. If you appreciate the work SWOA does and you want to contribute to its success then spread the word. Talk to your waterfront neighbors and encourage them to join and don't forget that the website is a great source of information and provides an easy way to sign up.
SWOA is a successful organization because of the volunteers that support it. I would like to thank the directors of the board for putting in another year of tireless effort and for donating your time and energy. I look forward to working with all of you.
Clyde Mitchell, August 8, 2017