Social media campaign opposes Kootenay Lake dock

A proposed dock at five-mile beach on the North Shore has folks upset about what it means for a favourite recreational site. - Kirsten Hildebrand photo
A proposed dock at five-mile beach on the North Shore has folks upset about what it means for a favourite recreational site.
— image credit: Kirsten Hildebrand photo

A proposed dock at Five Mile on the North Shore has locals in an uproar about lost access to a popular beach.

Residents Jane and Mark Andreychuk have applied to build private moorage that will bisect the beach and cut through shallow waters well used by families with young children. The couple resides in Alberta and uses the home as a summer vacation spot. Their application for a dock spanning 51 meters is currently under review by the province as the beach is on crown land. Comments on the application will be received until February 1.

In effort to bring attention to the issue and not let that deadline slip by, Debbie Bird began a Facebook page early Friday morning. By the end of the day, over 100 people had responded with word spreading like wildfire.

“This dock would clearly make a statement and ruin the public swimming access in this area,” writes Bird.

She started the campaign in response to concerns she was hearing from friends. In addition to generating public awareness, she includes a link to the BC government site where comments are accepted.

“I am so glad this event has caused so much needed public interest and concern. That was my hope,” she told the Star.

Eva Myers-McKimm lives near Five Mile beach, also referred to as Willow Point. She describes the shoreline that features a curved sandbar extending into the lake.

“Within that curve of the sandbar, it’s shallow. It’s like a natural wading pool and swimming area for children,” she says. “It’s why it’s always been a popular beach.”

The proposed dock runs directly across this swimming area toward the tip of the sandbar.

“If they put this wharf in, it will dramatically change the landscape of a beach that everyone has always enjoyed,” she says.

Myers-McKimm says her family, who have been in the neighbourhood since the 1960s, quietly wrote their letters in opposition some time ago. But since the story has “exploded,” she’s taken on the issue again. Most people living near the beach are longstanding residents who’ve always had a “sense of stewardship about the beach.” Because the Andreychuks aren’t local it’s been difficult with them not knowing Kootenay customs, says Myers-McKimm.

“The communication between those folks and people who use the beach has slowly broken down so doing this is going to pushed that even further and that’s unfortunate,” she says.

Beach access is a hot issue with access to popular spots such as Willow Point and Six Mile being challenged. The RDCK is currently working toward addressing this concern that is similar to the Pulpit Rock access problem. Director Ron Mickel wants to see solutions so that these areas can continue to be used by the public.

He met with a group of concerned folks at the beach Saturday morning.

“This is a threat to a prime beach in the area,” Mickel says. “After looking at it today, I can understand that for young families, this is one of the most important beaches in the area.”

The proposed dock has brought the issue to the forefront as people often react when faced with losing something and Mickel is sympathetic.

“I am not suggesting people shouldn’t be able to build docks. This particular dock just doesn’t make any sense because it does take away access to a large number of people.”

Mickel has heard from many people opposed to the dock and is similarly submitting his own input and comments to the provincial government. He believes there will be a fair outcome.

“That’s what public consultation is all about,” he says. “If it’s deemed that this dock is not in public interest, I think government will listen.”

Access to the beach has deep historical roots. Myers-McKimm notes the SS Nasookin used the spot as a docking point as it travelled the lake.

“It has such a long history of being publicly accessed,” she says. “This is so not in the realm of what’s happened there for decades.”


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