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Slocan Lake residents prefer peace and quiet

Slocan Lake from Bonanza Beach. - Greg Nesteroff photo
Slocan Lake from Bonanza Beach.
— image credit: Greg Nesteroff photo

A study of community values on Slocan Lake finds a significant majority of residents want to preserve the area’s tranquility and avoid development on Crown land.

The survey, conducted last September for the Slocan Lake Stewardship Society, also revealed permanent and seasonal residents mostly see eye-to-eye.

“We were surprised both the people who live here full-time and part-time were on the same page around the need for protecting the water, the waterfront, and the wildness of the lake,” says society president Therese DesCamp, who presented the results to the Regional District of Central Kootenay board Thursday.

“They’re interested in regulations that will preserve environmentally sensitive areas and want development limited to already inhabited areas.”

Ranking highest among respondents’ values were clean water and healthy ecosystems. Among other key findings, over 70 per cent didn’t support making vacant Crown land along the lakeshore available for private ownership and development.

“There are lakes in the East Kootenay that have 93 per cent developed shorelines,” DesCamp says. Slocan Lake is exactly the opposite, “and we want to keep it that way because once you get to a certain point there is no recovery of lake ecology.”

Sixty-four per cent felt there should be no houseboating, sea-dooing or jet-skiing, or at least less than there is now. Forty-three per cent also felt ski boating and wake boating should be reduced or eliminated. Camping and hiking were the only activities a small majority felt could be increased.

There was strong support for maintaining existing public wharves, docks, and boat ramps, but mixed results about building new ones, and very little support for private foreshore structures. Nearly half of respondents said more regulation is needed to ensure the lake and foreshore is properly managed.

The findings are intended to help create a lake management plan. New Denver mayor Ann Bunka, who introduced a motion Thursday to get on with that process, said the results confirmed what many already believed.

“We’ve always felt that’s what the community wanted, and it’s in black and white now. It shows the stewardship society was right and what the councils around the lake felt was [correct]. It reinforced what we’ve all been feeling.”

Bunka also said she was impressed with the 14-member advisory committee that developed the survey. “We had folks from every walk of life. Every part of our community had a place at that table,” she said.

The survey was distributed in the north Slocan Valley, including Slocan, Silverton, and New Denver, and asked 18 questions around values and vision.

Of the 665 qualified responses, 431 came from permanent residents and 234 from seasonal residents and absentee landowners, a participation rate of about one-third. (Almost 200 surveys were disqualified for a variety of reasons, including being incomplete or filled out by non-residents.)

DesCamp said the survey represented an investment of over $250,000 in grants and volunteer hours. “A huge number of people have given huge amounts of time to be part of this project,” she said.

She also noted the proposed management plan is a proactive measure, where often such plans are developed in response to pollution or other concerns. “In other lakes they’re doing catch-up,” she said.

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