The provincial government is currently seeking input on an application by the Pedley Heights Community Association for a floating dock facility at Baltac Beach on Lake Windermere.
This is the second time this project has been reviewed. The previous application was not approved due to concerns of unmitigated environmental issues (development in key habitat area, insufficient mitigation plan and proof that the project would not cause detrimental impacts to the environment); impact to public access, use, and enjoyment of Crown land; impacts to First Nations communities; and the Land Act Authorization not having the authority to remove buoys (application claims to replace mooring buoys with facility).
The main difference between the initial application and this new one is the inclusion of an Environmental Management Plan that aims to address strategies and management practices to mitigate environmental impacts of the project. While innovative and well thought out strategies to mitigate the environmental impact are included in this plan, these are simply best practices on a project that does not support the environmental health of Lake Windermere.
Lake Windermere has seen an increase in motorized boat traffic over the past number of years, and the approval of this project would increase ease of motorized access to the lake. Lake Windermere is known to be a shallow lake, with an average depth of 3-4m. These depths decrease over the summer making the lake bottom more and more susceptible to damage. The Lake Windermere Ambassasors 2019 Water Quality Report, shows an image of scars on the lake bottom made by motorized boats. This damage is more than just a visual disturbance, this damage impacts the sediments (increasing nutrients in the water column), spawning opportunities, proliferation of aquatic vegetation, and turbidity. These are all damaging impacts to the already fragile habitat of Lake Windermere
Waterfowl and amphibian populations will also feel the impact of this project. These species build nests out of floating vegetation near shoreline areas. Boat wake disturbance can disrupt or even destroy these critical nests, which often go unseen due to being hidden amongst the emergent aquatic vegetation.
The non-motorized recreation community (ex. kayaks, canoes, sailboats, stand up paddle boards) are not represented in this project and will feel the impact of a larger moorage facility. Where non-motorized recreationists will typically stick to the shorelines to avoid wake disturbance and large vessels, they will now lose a section of that, already scarce, available shoreline. If the lake is perceived as “too busy”, tourists may opt not to visit our area. This removes a key source of revenue for many local small businesses and hurts our local economy.
Overall the project would not directly enhance or protect any of the lake’s shoreline areas, littoral zones, or water quality. If anything, the facility will have either a neutral or negative impact.
Have your voice heard here. All comments must be submitted by January 16, 2020.