The Okanagan Indian Band is increasingly frustrated with boats abandoned off its shore.
The arrival of the Fintry Queen at the head of Okanagan Lake has escalated concerns from the band about vessels moored in the lake.
“There is no less then four barges located in the (Westside Road) area,” said Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis.
“Then across the lake in front of our reserve lands, we have two large vessels.
”One has been moored off the eastern shore for well over five years and now the Fintry Queen. All of these barges and vessels aren’t monitored or under any standard to ensure environment standards are maintained.”
Louis says there have also been issues with people accessing the boats through reserve land.
“We have problems with their guests trespassing on reserve lands and it’s only going to escalate,” he said of conflicts between trespassers and band members.
“This is especially true during summer months and at the height of fire season with open fires.”
The band is currently seeking legal advice on boats left in the lake.
“But why are we having to go to this extreme to get resolution on this matter?” he said.
“Why are we always forced by this (provincial) government to react in the only way they understand and that’s through the courts.
“We should be spending our hard-earned resources on education and other areas that achieve real social and economic benefit and yet we’re forced to spend it in this manner.”
The Fintry Queen was based in Kelowna for many years and provided tours on the lake. It has been evicted from moorage in Kelowna and West Kelowna.
Andy Schwab, Fintry Queen owner, says he is seeking a permanent home for the vessel possibly in Summerland, and it is being stored temporarily over the winter near Vernon.
“It’s perhaps the next safest place on the lake we can get to,” he said, adding that a group of Vernon area residents are lending a hand.
“They are maintaining the anchors properly.”
Schwab says he wasn’t aware that the boat is moored off OKIB land and he says he will contact Louis to discuss the matter further.
“We’re not looking for a permanent home there. The ship is of no value to us sitting there,” he said.
“We don’t want to see it stay there. The game plan is to get it operating.”
Transport Canada says it doesn’t grant approval for moorage of boats.
However, moorage requires permission from the owner of the space (either marina or bed of waterway) occupied by the vessel,” said Daniel Savoie, with agency media relations.
“Vessels moored at anchor also need to comply with the collision regulations.”