When Progress Actually Means Going Backwards!

The wife and I recently attended a "town meeting" / BS session here in Sicamous, concerning the growth of the town and, what the local council members have proposed.  They (the Council) of course holds these meetings with us townsfolk so that they can say "well we held a meeting so we could hear your opinion!" and then do what they want anyways!  I think this kind of scenario is played out in every town, and I think all  that those townsfolk come out of the meetings with is the same or similar opinion as we did, it really doesn't matter what you say because they'll do what they want regardless of what you say!  A bit pessimistic?? You bet, but its the truth!

My rant for our own wee town of Sicamous is of course, all the development that has been going on for the last 2 years, and there's no sign of it stopping anytime soon.  Rumors of it being the next Invermere are not far off, as the town houses/condos get higher so do the prices, ranging up and over a million dollars.  While I could rant about the empty block of land behind us and the wife and I wondering what the hell is going to go there, I'll concentrate on the poor fish, as these projects affects them and those that have a business such as I do.  There are two "proposals" in the works for our town, one big houseboat company moving onto Shuswap Lake in the Old Towne Bay area, and another houseboat company moving onto Mara Lake at Two Mile Point.  The general consensus of residents for both of these projects is nothing short of being appalled at what is happening.  While most residents are concerned about the increase in traffic, noise and just general yukk at seeing these big companies move into their area, I don't think anyone has taken into account the impact that this will have on the fish in these areas.

One of the councilors at the "meeting" (only  6 townsfolk there when we went!  They held it during the day and during the week when most folks were at work!) told me that the one houseboat operation that was on Shuswap Lake DID NOT have any proposal forwarded to them with respect to a marina at that location?  OK, so they bought a chunk of property worth.............5 mill, 8 mill, how about a ton of money!  They are going to relocate their houseboat fleet to that location, build a hotel/casino/restaurant, have residential lots and RV lots and, according to one of their own councilors, once completed this monstrosity will increase Sicamous population (in the summer) up to 5000 people???  And, with a straight face, she actually believes that there won't be a marina built or other such structures to moor boats to????  Hello!!!!  Talk about being naive and coming up with a ludicrous answer!!  There hasn't been a waterfront condo/townhouse built in this town that does not have boat slips for the occupants, and it won't be any different in the Old Town Bay project!!  The problem with that you ask??  Have a look at this (photo) spawning map, done up by Fisheries and Oceans in 2005 of the major spawning area for lake char.  Right smack dab where the new project is going!!  Didn't anyone else research this before permits and stuff were signed??  What isn't shown on the map is that the Eagle River right beside it is also a major spawning river, and that the entire area to the southeast is a ecological sanctuary!!  I don't get it, I really don't, who's in charge of looking into the habitat such as this when applications are made!  The same counselors remark after I told her of the spawning areas was. "well, we have to take into account what is best for the town and its residents, as well as the fish, and come up with a compromise.".  What a bomb out that statement was!  

The bottom line is this, the habitat will in fact suffer,  and just so little towns like ours can flourish, at least that's how town counselors see it.  Its the all mighty buck that determines what happens, and as our small towns grow at an exponential rate it snowballs and the mess gets bigger and bigger until its out of control, that's where we are at now.  With talk of 8-10 story buildings being built out at 2 Mile Pt. where the other houseboat company is relocating, it makes us taxpayers wonder where it will end, if ever.  Oh ya, 2 Mile Pt.??  Here's a map (photo) from Fisheries and Oceans showing that it too is a major spawning area for lake char and a few sockeye, right where that project is taking place.

"Progress" as defined in Webster's dictionary says "forward movement, advance improvement", I'm afraid it doesn't apply to what's happening here.  I know as well as anyone that things change, not always for the better, but that's just the way life is.  With respect to fish and their habitat, we have to become their stewards and look out for their well being, as its obvious that local counsels really don't care.  There isn't enough money (taxes) brought into our town with respect to the fishery here, and as I guide I know that, so it means little to those that wish the town to "progress" and in fact, its not even in their view screen.  What another example just before I close off my rant?  Well, your going to get it anyways.  Local fisherman are continually complaining about the lack of a proper boat launch here in town, the one we have is in a terrible location and it is not maintained properly. Last year I cut out 20 lbs of rebar that was sticking up all over, the District never did respond to my complaints.  I also suggested they add a couple more concrete slabs at the end of the ramp so as boats weren't getting stuck in the gravel when the water is lower.  Their response was that they were "forbidden" to do any construction on the ramp because it would disturb the fish habitat!!  And these big projects on the lake won't!!  The boat launch problem is going to be solved, in the Districts eyes, by having one of these big houseboat companies build a nice new public boat launch on Shuswap Lake, on the houseboat companies  property.  Isn't that nice???  Not really, because there won't be any public parking for your truck and trailer, it would be a paid parking valet service!!!!  Holy crap, I want someone driving my stuff to park it, and I can only imagine what they would charge!!  This proposal actually came out of the same councilors mouth that said they wouldn't put any boat slips or marina in!  That's right, marina, boat slips, don't start the word game, boat parking is boat parking.  What can we do? What I'm doing is writing the Ministry of Environment and the Department of Federal Fisheries to look closer at both of these projects before they go approving more permits. Its the old story, if you want to whine and complain about something but are willing to do nothing, then keep your yap shut!  No yap shutting for me!!  See you at the launch!

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