A new report says 171 kilometres — or 59 per cent — of Okanagan Lake’s shoreline have been developed or disturbed.
The Okanagan Foreshore Inventory Mapping report also found that four kilometres of natural shoreline was lost or permanently altered between 2009 and 2016.
Examples of shoreline disturbances may include the removal of native vegetation, or construction of retaining walls, docks, marinas and road projects.
“The report notes the length of naturalized shoreline loss is considered measurable and significant, especially considering cumulative effects,” says a City of Vernon release.
The report calls for the development of a shoreline management plan, and more collaboration between Okanagan communities.
City of Vernon News Release
The Okanagan Foreshore Inventory Mapping (FIM) report was updated this spring to provide a summary of 2016 shoreline conditions. This initiative was completed as a collaborative project between bordering jurisdictions of Okanagan Lake and regional stewardship groups. Okanagan Lake is considered one of the most important natural features of the region, providing critical economic and ecological services and benefits to the Okanagan. In order to facilitate better management for the sustainable development of the shoreline, FIM reports have been completed to measure the cumulative effects of densification, urbanization and growth along the lake. As a result of these impacts, project partners are working cooperatively to mitigate future impacts to the lake, foreshore and adjacent riparian areas.
The 2016 FIM report identified that ~171 kilometres (59 per cent) of Okanagan Lake shoreline have been developed or disturbed. Additionally, 4.1 kilometres (1.42 per cent) of natural shoreline was lost or permanently altered between 2009 and 2016. Vernon, which accounts for approximately one per cent of the entire shoreline, noted that 0.85 per cent of its natural shoreline has been disturbed or developed during the same period. Examples of shoreline disturbances may include the removal of native vegetation and the construction of retaining walls, docks, marinas and road projects.
The report notes that the length of naturalized shoreline loss is considered measurable and significant, especially considering cumulative effects. The report further notes that Okanagan shoreline planning would benefit from a collaborative effort by all Okanagan communities and recommends for the development of an Okanagan Lake shoreline management plan along with supportive education and outreach.
The FIM update was initiated by the Regional District of Central Okanagan and facilitated through a partnership with the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP), the South Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (SOSCP), the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) and the City of Vernon through the support of Environmental and Climate Change Canada. Since 2011, these partners have recognized the value in having a comprehensive assessment across all of Okanagan Lake and were able to collaborate across regional boundaries to build and continue this inventory. These reports provide decision makers and the community with quantifiable information that can be
used to inform policy planning, programming and decision making, including initiatives related to land use, climate action and emergency response to flood and drought events. The 2016 report marks the second time that all 290 kilometres of Okanagan Lake shoreline has been catalogued and mapped, with the first report being completed in 2009.
A copy of the Okanagan Lake Foreshore Inventory and Mapping 2016 Update Report can be found at www.vernon.ca/sustainability. For more information about the details of the report, please contact Scott Boswell, OCCP Manager, 250-469-6292.