Planned dock removal raises ire of residents and mayor

SLIPP may be slipping out of control and there are fears local dock owners are being targeted by the province.

SLIPP may be slipping out of control and there are fears local dock owners are being targeted by the province.

This was the message put forward by Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton at last week’s district council meeting in response to a letter from White Pine Crescent residents Rick and Jean Ellithorpe, who are upset with what they call the “bullying approach” the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is taking to waterfront property owners regarding existing docks. In their letter, the Ellithorpes ask that council intervene on the behalf of all affected dock owners.

But the ministry’s Steve Tomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Resource Operations, says they are not planning on removing docks this summer and is working on processes to make licence acquisition much easier. He says the ministry plans to use education to get compliance

Derelict docks are being cleaned up in the Salmon Arm area through SLIPP, the Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process. Marcin Pachcinski, Columbia Shuswap Regional District Parks and Recreation manager, says the latest data reveals there are a total of 2,700 docks total on Mara and Shuswap lakes, and more than 90 per cent are able to get tenure by applying for a licence.

Trouton said council is planning discuss the issue with the provincial ministers at the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention. This, however, was after he laid into SLIPP, reiterating concerns he expressed as a director on the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board.

Recently, the CSRD board deferred a decision to allocate $50,000 to explore the feasibility of continuing to fund SLIPP.

“The whole SLIPP thing is basically taboo in Sicamous,” Trouton told the board, noting that at a SLIPP stakeholders’ meeting in that community in June, he agreed with concerns about water quality with regard to drinking water and recreation, but heard from one government agency their perspective was to protect fish. “I won’t support this until we as directors decide that we even want it.”

Trouton expressed frustration at the way he says SLIPP, a body that proclaims it has no compliance powers, did a catalogue of docks on the lake and promptly handed it over to the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Resource Operations, which has plans to remove several docks in the Sicamous area.

“We paid them to do the studies and now the ministry is going ahead with compliance,” he said.

Even with the CSRD board approving the deferral, Trouton told Sicamous councillors that he still felt he had been ignored, explaining how, even after the board’s decision, Area C South Shuswap director Paul Demenok, the SLIPP steering committee chair, still plans to make his own presentation at UBCM to garner the premier’s support.

Trouton wants SLIPP  to focus solely on water quality, with clear language defining its mandate. As for the province using SLIPP’s data for enforcement purposes, Trouton says there needs to be greater transparency in what SLIPP is about and working towards.

“At the director level, we’re getting asked to support this, these types of initiatives, especially through SLIPP… but we’re not getting clarification,” said Trouton. “It has to be set up better so there’s not a misrepresentation of what we’re trying to accomplish, and that’s what I feel has been done.”