Board reaffirms support for 20-hp maximum
By Ian Cobb
The board of directors of the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) April 8 agreed to reaffirm the regional government’s position of support for a 20-horsepower maximum (motor restriction) on the Columbia River.
Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie initiated the board move after the federal Ministry of Transport-proposed regulation was recently published in the Canada Gazette.
“The proposed Regulations Amending the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations (Columbia River) would implement a year-round restriction on the operation of power-driven vessels on the main channel of the upper Columbia River and its tributaries (between 1.6 km northwest of Fairmont Hot Springs and Donald Station) in B.C. Vessels with motors 15 kW (20 hp) or less would be exempt from this proposed restriction,” the Canada Gazette piece noted.
As it asks interested persons to make representations to the Minister of Transport concerning the proposed regulations within 30 days after the date of the publication, Wilkie thought it prudent for the regional board to act.
“The proposed limit has been on the desk at the Ministry of Transport for four or five years,” Wilkie said, pointing out all local government offices between Fairmont Hot Springs and Golden support the move.
A similar letter was sent by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District last year and a recent response from the ministry indicates that a decision is pending, he said.
The proposed boating regulation is the result of the work undertaken by the Columbia Wetland Stewardship Partners, which the RDEK has participated in and supported over the past decade, stated Andrew McLeod, RDEK Planning & Development Services Manager in a report to the board.
The Steamboat – Jubilee Mountain Official Community Plan also supports a horsepower restriction, McLeod reported.
Wilkie said impacts from higher speed motorboat use on the Columbia River has “significant impacts” on the river and wetlands, such as levee breakdowns from wakes.
“There are huge concerns about wildlife in the area,” he said, pointing out, “The historical use has been low. The concern is future use; the ‘you build it and they will come.’”
The board approved a letter be sent to the Minister of Transport requesting that the proposed amendment to the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations to limit motors to a 20 horsepower maximum on the main channel of the Columbia River and its tributaries through the Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area be approved.
The board sent a letter to Transport Canada in April 2012 supporting the proposed 20hp restriction on the main channel of the Columbia River.
Horsepower restriction on the Columbia River between Lake Windermere and Donald has been an ongoing discussion for almost 20 years.
In the late 1990s there was a major push to have a 10-hp restriction and another in 2005.
Lead image: The Columbia River at Brisco. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photos