River regulations

Resident wants regional district to apply rules to the Shuswap River

I’m wondering if Mike Steiner is even aware of the delicious irony of some of his statements.

Mr. Steiner is vigorously and vociferously campaigning for the right of him and others to be able to drive at whatever speed they please along the Shuswap River. He accuses the Regional District of North Okanagan of embracing “a special interest group’s agenda.” He feels there should be a 75 to 90 per cent threshold of community members in favour of the proposed RDNO regulations governing responsible behaviour on the river.

He states that, “hundreds of people and families would suffer the effects,” of these changes but, that leaving things as they are, “does not inflict changes on anyone’s financial situation, retirement plans, succession and estate planning or lifestyle.” He further says, “there are no recorded accidents involving motorized users on the river.”

Let me see now, where to start? There were just over 94,000 adults in the North Okanagan-Shuswap in 2015. Add to that, the thousands of tourists who find their way to this region and we can probably assume there are in excess of 100,000 potential users of the river. Of these, “hundreds of people and families” seems like such a small percentage that one could almost accuse Mr. Steiner and his friends of being a special interest group and, possibly even, of having an agenda. Oh, the irony.

I’m not sure where Mr. Steiner boats, but I am a regular user of the river (canoeing and swimming, mainly) and I have witnessed so many near misses by usually speeding motorized craft and so much irresponsible behaviour by the operators of these craft that I am amazed that Mr. Steiner’s claim might be true.

Recently I was at a local river beach, where there were perhaps 125 people in and out of the water, including those swimming in the channel and jumping off the opposite bank, when a boat could be heard, then seen approaching way too fast. The operator of the boat made no attempt to lower his speed and it would have been logistically impossible for him to be able to take note of the about 40 swimmers.

I yelled a loud, “hey” and motioned to him to slow it down a bit. His response was to give the boat full throttle and ignore all swimmers and waders. I counted 15 people whose lives were directly endangered by this reckless and irresponsible behaviour. This is a daily occurrence, and I am referencing one beach only.

I have to think the safety and comfort of many tens of thousands of people trumps the attitude that seems to permeate the world of motorized watercraft, at least on this river. I believe it to be a resource that exists for all users.

In closing, I must say that I agree vehemently with Mr. Steiner’s closing statement: “All RDNO officials and management, who had any part of this, should be ashamed of their handling of this process all the way back to 2009.” I agree. Those officials should have imposed both a horsepower limit and a speed limit on most of the river, with a total motor ban on the rest of it. I’m sure, though, they’ll get it right this time.

Mark Levey



Vernon Morning Star