Business encourages action on channel

A local business reliant upon safe passage between Shuswap and Mara lakes offers more to the case for having the Sicamous channel dredged.

A local business reliant upon safe passage between Shuswap and Mara lakes has offered more to the case for having the Sicamous channel dredged.

District of Sicamous council is encouraging more letters such as the one it received from Shuswap Marine Freight owner Rob Sutherland. In his letter, Sutherland stresses the need for dredging the central passage through the channel to Mara Lake and, more critically, into Shuswap Lake, adjacent to and in between the navigational markers.

Sutherland explains how, over the years, sand and silt has been building up in the narrow passage, affecting local marinas as well as his own business by creating a navigational hazard for his tugboat and barge. He notes that over the last three years, the tug has had to plow its way through the channel.

“Only due to the constant movement of the tug and the barge on a daily basis has a narrow path been able to be kept open with only minimal grounding as the tug makes its way to the Shuswap and Mara lake systems,” writes Sutherland. “In years to come this may not be possible as more sand and silt settles in this narrow passage.”

Sutherland suggests the need for action – to acquire approval to dredge the areas of concern – is urgent, as the buildup in the channel could also have an impact on emergency services/operations.

“If (dredging) does not happen in the near future, critical services such as support to RCMSAR Station 106 mass casualty evacuations, support to the Canadian Pacific Railway in the event of a train derailment along the Shuswap shoreline and support services to the many vactioners and cabin owners will be impeded or impossible to complete,” writes Sutherland, who is also acting station leader for the Shuswap-based RCMSAR Station 106.

Coun. Colleen Anderson said it’s important council gather every bit of information it can in working towards getting the channel dredged, and welcomed more letters from the community.

“I think it’s really important that this town throws themselves right behind everything we can do to get this channel dredged,” said Anderson, “Because it’s important for businesses on the channel and our tourism industry.”