The future of the Okanagan Lake watershed land use will be subject of a new study supported by a $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation. (Contributed)

Grant to help develop Okanagan Lake protection strategy

Study receives $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation.

Developing a strategy to protect and restore the Okanagan Lake shoreline and watershed tributaries has received a $300,000 boost from the Vancouver Foundation.

The grant will support a three-year study led by the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) in partnership with the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) and the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program based out of Penticton.

Brittany Lange, environmental planner for RDCO, said the study follows a similar model carried out for Windermere Lake in the Kootenays.

“Our study is unique because of the population of the two large urban areas, Kelowna and West Kelowna, but the Windermere Lake study brought together many municipalities to work out some complex land use issues when you deal with talking about a watershed,” Lange said.

She said the population boom and fast-paced growth rate across the Okanagan Valley in the past 20 years have accentuated issues such as shoreline and upland development that have destroyed wetland areas.

“The hope of this study is to work towards protecting what we have left,” said Lange.

“Clearly, things need to change.”

READ MORE: B.C. water sustainability plan pitched to Okanagan stakeholders

When complete, the hope is the resulting strategy will provide the knowledge and expertise to assist with new land-use planning decisions that support common, consistent and collaborative approaches to protect shoreline natural areas, prepare for and mitigate climate change impacts and promote sustainable development.

Lange said ONA involvement is a key driver in securing the grant due to the reconciliation efforts being promoted by the federal and provincial governments.

That recognition is also a focal point of the province’s efforts to develop a long-term water sustainability strategy, now in the study consultation phase, which is expected to deliver some overall land-use policies for the provincial government to consider sometime in the fall of 2022.

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