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Lake Kathlyn Society wants environmental recommendations enforced

LKPS had questions about status of agreement made when Watson’s Landing was constructed in 2008.
A photo taken at Watson’s Landing after heavy rainfall on June 20 showing what the Lake Kathlyn Protection Society calls “a large amount of suspended material being discharged into the lake.” (Contributed photo)

The Lake Kathlyn Protection Society (LKPS) took the opportunity to express their environmental concerns at a Smithers town council meeting July 24.

LKPS representatives Terry Stuart and Barry Lester put questions forward to council about the status of an agreement made when Watson’s Landing was constructed in 2008.

“The Watson’s Landing development happened after my time on there, but as you are probably aware of it was quite controversial in its day … That controversy had to do with the environmental effect it was going to have on the lake,” Lester said.

He explained that the development went ahead under a strict environmental evaluation.

“That first point in the evaluation was done externally by [Triton Environmental Consulting Ltd.], which did a very extensive study and recommendations. That was followed by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) … [who] made some recommendations, and the Town gave a development permit which also endorsed both of those standards from the MoE as well as from Triton.”

The MoE’s recommendations outlined a monthly water quality monitoring program maintained by a strata corporation.

“We have seen no data, we are unaware of any collection being done or monitoring being done, and if not, why not?” Lester inquired.

Another of the MoE’s recommendations included a riparian reserve re-vegetation plan, which described the planting of coniferous seedlings eight to 15 meters away from the lake shore.

“We’ve waited 10 years. Those trees would now be six to eight feet high or higher. I think you should consider requesting plantings of that size,” Stuart suggested.

Stuart added that the lake does not currently meet the MoE’s standards on several criteria, including turbidity, oxygen, phosphorus, and several biological indicators.

“It’s a delicate situation, and to have a development like Watson’s Landing not comply with the most rudimentary best practices for waterfront living is very disheartening.”

He said other Lake Kathlyn property owners contribute more annually for the health of the lake than Watson’s Landing.

“There’s a parcel tax on each property owner, and because Watson’s Landing is not in the regional district anymore it was excluded. Before it came into the town boundary it paid the tax. When it came into the town, the tax stopped.

“We petitioned the regional representative at the time … to discuss it with the Town; we saw that this was unfair. Apparently, and I can’t swear by this because I wasn’t present because nobody from our society was involved in the discussion, but there was an agreement made with the regional district and the Watson’s Landing and the Town that Watson’s Landing would pay the equivalent of four parcels, which is what the property was originally. So, you have 29 properties using the lake … and they’re paying the equivalent of four.”

Town staff agreed to review the development permit from 2008 and open communication with the MoE.

“I know we have our responsibilities for the original development permit. We have been chasing the developer for that information without any success. I guess it’s my opinion that we need the MoE’s help in making sure that both our permit requirements and the provincial requirements are being upheld for the lake,” said development services director Mark Allen.

“My sense of the next step is that our staff are going to do some research, talk to the MoE, and put together a detailed staff report for council that will outline the status of the Town’s obligations, any options that we have for remedying the situation, and then we will debate that and eventually give direction at our [Aug 14] meeting,” said Mayor Taylor Bachrach.