Shuswap organization opposes marina

Old Town Bay: Public has until May 19 to comment on project.

Anyone with concerns or words of support for the proposed Old Town Bay marina project has until May 19 to make them known to the B.C. government.

The Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB) is currently accepting feedback for their review of new resort marina project in the bay. Most Sicamous residents will know this application has to do with the relocation of Twin Anchors’ houseboat operation from the channel, to the future site of Old Town Bay resort, a 220-acre development proposal that’s been in the works for more than six years.

One Shuswap environmental organization is saying the marina will negatively impact fish habitat and recreational values, and is encouraging the public to speak out against it.

“Even though the marina is designed to be located in deeper water outside the primary zone critical to salmon fry, we remain concerned that this massive marina, that would fill in the entire bay, will still negatively impact salmon and other species,” says Shuswap Environmental Action Society president Jim Cooperman in a news release. Cooperman argues moving out of the channel will likely only increase human incursion in fish habitat.

“If the houseboat docks were removed and the foreshore returned to a natural state, then the move could be beneficial,” says Cooperman. “However, the plans call for the houseboat docks to simply be replaced with docks for speedboats and thus many impacts would remain. Even if the new docks in the channel were built using the best practices, there would still be impacts.”

As for the proposed Old Town marina, which would contain around 276 boat slips, with moorage for the houseboat operation as well as moorage for smaller, private boats, Cooperman says he is concerned over the potential impact from “fuel spills, pollution from washing of the houseboats, shade from the boats that create hiding places for more predators of the salmon fry, as well as noise and siltation.” He says that “while a comprehensive, independent impact assessment will be prepared; it should be made available to the public for review before a final decision is made.”

Twin Anchors’ Todd Kyllo says the marina has been in the planning stage since 2006, and a battery of scientific studies have been undertaken since then, including studies on biophysical environment, terrain and topography, soil/sediments quality, surface water, groundwater, air quality, noise and vibration, fish and fish habitat, foreshore inventory and mapping, species and ecosystems at risk, plant species, archeology and heritage and socio-economic conditions. He says all of these studies are required to provide a screening assessment in accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Responsible Authority’s Guide, for the construction and operation of a marina.

“As this is a very extensive and thorough regimen requirement by the government authorities, one can see why it has taken several years to complete,” says Kyllo. ”It’s unfortunate that a group such as the Shuswap Environmental Action Society is not educated on what is required for a marina application.”

Kyllo notes that for many years, Old Town Bay has been home to many acres of floating logs, or booming ground, for decades, and he says the marina will have a significantly smaller impact.

“This project aims to provide deep-water moorage and other recreation services not only for the houseboats but as well for the upland resort and housing that will be built in the future,” says Kyllo. “Much planning has been done to position the marina in deep water, which avoids any high-value habitat and will preclude the requirement for future dredging.

“Reviews, recommendations, and approval by Transport Canada under the Navigable Waters Protection Act and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are required for this project, and those authorities have received the necessary documentation.”

The Old Town Bay resort project was initially a partnership between Twin Anchors and other investors represented through a numbered development corporation.  In 2010, the corporation behind the project pleaded guilty to land-clearing and the removal of riparian vegetation without permission of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and was fined $5,000, made to put $300,000 in a trust for habitat remediation, and levied $70,000 to be paid to the Fraser Basin Council to support conservation and protection of fish habitat around Shuswap Lake.

Twin Anchors’ Greg Kyllo told the News in May of last year that he and Todd had divested themselves of the majority interest in the resort project, retaining only about four acres in the village centre for the future marina.

“We’re kind of back to where our original plan was, and leave the developing business to others,” Greg said at that time.

Anyone wishing to leave comments may visit the ILMB website at: http://www.arfd.gov.bc.ca/ApplicationPosting/viewpost.jsp?PostID=29366.