The election is over and Parliament resumed on November 19th with the ‘Speech from the Throne’. Hopefully, the opposition parties will be able to work together with our Government for the next four years. As your re-elected Member of Parliament, I will continue, on your behalf, to be your voice in Ottawa.
During the election campaign, I was impressed with the number of constituents telling me how much they appreciated my weekly newspaper columns. I was encouraged to keep using this source as a means of advising all of you on happenings in Ottawa. To all the local papers in our riding, I would like to sincerely thank you for printing my columns.
I always try to separate the political rhetoric during the campaign and take note of what the real issues are in the Okanagan-Shuswap. Without a doubt, the burning issues are water quality and regulatory framework around protecting the lakes in the region.
The jurisdiction for planning and development approval is under the Regional Districts. Environmental protection falls under the provincial Ministry of Environment. Protection of fish habitat is under the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. There is a regulatory framework to protect the environment and fish habitat and these regulations are actively enforced.
The concerns residents have are mainly around land use planning and sanitary effluent discharge into the lakes.
I do not want to get into the debate as this should be discussed by our locally elected regional representatives. However, I do want to record some questions asked of me during the election. I asked many of these questions during Regional District Board meetings when I was Mayor of Salmon Arm.
How many house boats will the Shuswap Lake accommodate?
This limit needs to be set in conjunction with the houseboat vacation companies in order for them to be able to develop their business plan around the numbers. Too many house boats will compromise the vacation experience and other users of the lake.
What regulations need to be in place before lakes in the region are used for house boat recreation?
Sanitary pump stations need to be in place as well as designated areas for house boat moorage. Some lakes need to be off limits for house boat use. My office has already responded to a complaint of a house boat on a lake with no sanitary pump station. We have requested guidelines to be developed with the Ministry of Transportation (Inland Waters) and the Department of Fisheries.
Residential and commercial septic facilities on lakefront properties need to be inspected and monitored by local government to ensure leaching does not take place. Bylaws making primary and secondary treatment before effluent is put into a field needs to be mandatory for new and renovated waterfront properties.
Public access and environmentally sensitive areas around the lake need to be identified and then secured in a planning policy for the future.
I am presently reading the draft of the ‘Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process Strategic Plan’ dated May 2, 2008. This work is well done and needs to be further developed and regulations implemented.
Twelve years ago I was part of the ‘Land Resource Manage Plan’ and in my view, not enough time was spent on the issues around Shuswap Lake and other lakes in the region in that planning process.
As I stated earlier, I am not wading into this discussion. This issue is under local and provincial jurisdiction. However, since these issues were brought to my attention by my constituents during the federal campaign, I am willing to be part of the work that is needed to be done to protect the lakes and our regional water sheds. I leave my offer of assistance to the newly elected officers of our communities.
In order to eliminate future conflict, the work must be done now.
MP Colin Mayes