A cigarette boat on Shuswap Lake.

Council against policing cigarette boats

Good Neighbour bylaw: Local economy trumps noise complaints.

Sicamous council is not interested in butting out cigarette boat use on Shuswap Lake.

Noise and safety concerns related to the use of cigarette boats (also called cigar boats) and other vessels on Shuswap Lake was a topic of discussion at the Aug. 12 committee of the whole meeting. Agenda documents for the meeting show an email from Coun. Colleen Anderson to council, stating she’d been asked a few times about the noise.

“Apparently not everyone loves the sound of a loud boat… We all need to be sharing the same information regarding this topic and the voiced concerns,” writes Anderson.

Mayor Terry Rysz also said the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board has been discussing both boating noise and speed/safety concerns, and how they might be addressed.

While the CSRD already has a noise bylaw (Shuswap Marine Noise Control Programme Unit Bylaw No. 1026), the board is considering a “Good Neighbour” bylaw that would address issues of both “undesirable and excessive noise, both on and off the water, as well as unsightly, untidy premises.”

“The question is, what does Sicamous want to do in regards of adopting some sort of a noise bylaw that might affect the cigar boats, whether you wish to move forward with anything like this or not,” asked Rysz.

With the existing CSRD marine noise bylaw, the long-standing issue has been one of enforcement. Coun. Jeff Mallmes suggested it would be the same for Sicamous, which has neither the means nor, most likely in most cases, the jurisdiction.

“Most of those boats, when they’re making the racket, are not in the District of Sicamous proper…,” said Mallmes.

Another point raised by Mallmes had to do with the amount of money boat owners are spending in the district.

“Yeah, those boats make some noise, but I was standing on the dock once when they were coming in there to fill up and it was $2,800 worth of gas this guy burned off in an hour,” said Mallmes. “So, you know what, there’s a lot of guys selling gas in the channel and they’re earning a living doing that, so I’m not in favour of policing… because I don’t think we have the jurisdiction to do it anyway.”

Anderson agreed about the money being brought into town, as well as not having resources for enforcement, but suggested an education program could be put in place so people “know the rules about how far from a boat they need to be, or a houseboat, or the beach or kids tubing.”

“Just as long as they’re aware,” said Anderson.

Coun. Todd Kyllo agreed with the points made by his fellow councillors. He added, given their value, it’s unlikely the Shuswap is going to be inundated with cigarette boats.

“Those boats are all well over half-a-million dollars… So unless you have the money to buy one, it’s not going to happen,” said Kyllo.

As for a noise bylaw, Kyllo argued it would have to apply to trains, semis, and everything else.

Asked what the CSRD does for enforcement, Rysz said policing is definitely an issue.

“I think… they are more concerned, not only about the noise but the speed of the boats and the danger those boats can bring to swimmers or whatever,” said Rysz. “My take on it… was that I had to really bring this back to our council and hear what you had to say as a council and then I’ll take that back to the CSRD.”

In a 2011 report to council, former Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Carl Vinet explained how, during the previous summer, police received numerous noise complaints regarding cigarette boats on the lake with exhaust being released above water. He said their owners could receive a $500 fine. In addition, boats could be removed from the water.