More than 2,000 have signed a petition opposing the development of a commercial campground on Vaseux Lake, south of Okanagan Falls.
The petition, penned by the Vaseux Lake Stewardship Association, opposes a proposed 1.2 hectare (ha), 35-site campground on the eastern shore of the lake, something they say will cause both environmental damage, and disturb the riparian habitat for fish, invertebrates, mammals and shorebirds.
“Vaseux Lake is a bird sanctuary that has been a protected area for over 80 years and acts as a safe haven from negative human impact. Removal of this land from the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) will have multiple negative effects,” reads the petition.
Impacts listed in the petition include increased stress on the birds that reside on and use the lake as a migratory stop, increased disturbance of riparian habitat, increased congestion from traffic, a change to the cultural character of the area, damage to the natural environment, loss of natural lake aesthetics, and loss of agricultural land, “that should stay as farmland.”
An application dated May 5 to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) by Ecora Engineering requests the exclusion of a 1.2 ha area of a parcel from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
The RDOS says their Official Community Plan bylaw speaks to supporting the Agricultural Lands Commission (ALC) in maintaining the integrity of land suitable for agriculture.
Their report on the application also states the land appears to have agricultural potential. The RDOS also said the proposed campground, bringing with it increased traffic, could potentially conflict with an active vineyard operation in close proximity.
This exclusion would eliminate conflicts of land uses. If the land was excluded from the ALR, the RDOS notes this would prevent them from regulating what non-farm uses may occur on the property.
Over the years there have been many proposals to develop on this land.
Dating back to 1980, the RDOS board of directors denied an exclusion application to facilitate 10 condominium units.
In 2006, the ALC refused the exclusion of 1.7 ha of the property to develop a 64-unit campground.
In 2010, the ALC reconsidered previous decisions regarding the land, refusing a proposed 39 RV lots instead allowing 29 RV lots in the foreshore area, subject to conditions.
According to the RDOS, the land has been previously designated and zoned for commercial tourist purposes.
The petition can be viewed online here.