Working on Okanagan Lake’s waterfront for the past three decades, Greg Garward has never seen conditions this bad.
He and partner George Bishop have operated out of the Pier Water Sports building on the shoreline beside the Lakeside Resort for the last 20 years and are afraid they may even lose the structure.
“That building, because it’s a riparian area, is just sitting on wood blocks on the sand, it doesn’t have a foundation or anything,” said Garward. “If the water gets high enough it will just roll underneath the building and the wave action will take the sand out and the building will fall into the water.
“It’s not that we haven’t had storms in the past but it’s just the high water makes it brutal. We’re not going to open because we don’t have any shoreline.”
All the rental watercraft including Sea-Doos, kayaks, power boats, parasailing boat and the 42-foot party boat have since been taken off the water.
Activities for the recent Victoria Day long weekend, which is usually one of the busiest at the start of the season for the company, were cancelled before hand.
Garward pointed to the potential for damages and the dangers associated with the large amount of debris in the lake and having customers creating wake and making conditions worse for lakefront home owners as the reasons why.
“I’ve seen it before you have a family go out there and hit a log and now they have to pay $3,000 to fix a motor,” said Garward. “You can see the dad’s upset, the mom’s upset, it’s just not worth it. It’s a sad thing to see a family come from Vancouver to have a good time and instead they’ve got a huge bill and the holiday’s ruined.”
Garward added the erosion of the shoreline has been happening for years and because it is riparian, government regulations prevent some work from being done.
“Something’s got to give, they’re going to have to let us put in some rock and replace the sand,” said Garward, who once had to pay $3,000 for a riparian survey after removing some wood without approval. “I was talking to (Penticton mayor) Andrew Jakubeit the other day and he said what’s the difference whether the waves stir up the sand or a bulldozer stirs up the sand.
“Basically our beach has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller until now we don’t have any beach.”
Bishop and Garward are currently weighing their options for opening, including moving the watercraft to the marina and working out of a kiosk.
“It’s just hard to say right now and they expect the water to keep rising to mid June,” he said. “We’re just going to have to wait and see.”