Penticton City Council is to be commended for their $400,000 restoration project in Penticton Creek.
It clearly shows good environmental practice in our sensitive (riparian) areas.
Skaha Park: Council was let down by senior staff whose responsibility it was to ensure that council adhered to Penticton Indian Band protocols and adequately address the riparian issues at Skaha Park.
Painted turtles are an endangered species with 85 per cent of their habitat destroyed in B.C.’s interior. These turtles exist throughout the Oxbows running alongside the Channel Parkway. Much of the land is locatee land (owned by band members) that was cut off with the channelization of the river in the 1940s. You can see clearly as you look at the Oxbows in the camp grounds across from Sudbury that they wound their way through the whole area and I believe right over to Skaha Park. The overflow pond along South Main was always a swampy area and interconnected with the creek in the park therefore always part of a sensitive environmental habitat.
Furthermore, the First Nations people sustained themselves by fishing and hunting throughout the Oxbows in the early days. hence the 1910 reserve boundaries encompassing the whole of the south end of town.
According to the Sept. 2015 paper: Review of Local Government Implementation of Riparian Areas Regulation: (RAR) a significant number of local governments are inconsistent as to their responsibilities with regard to RAR implementation towards RAR standards.
Penticton needs to do a complete review of its environmental policy. Regulations should be in place that would automatically trigger an automatic environmental assessment before any development takes place in any of these sensitive areas.
The following areas need to be addressed:
Definitions of streams and riparian areas that is consistent with the RAR that triggers a regulatory action if a development activity is proposed to occur in a riparian assessment area;
Regulations requiring an environmental report by a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) complying with RAR regulations and its assessment methods.
The RAR bylaw should support riparian protection; address soil removal and deposit, tree protection and management, and landscaping as well as any mitigation tools that might apply to riparian areas; all within the framework of provincial RAR regulations.
The OCP should contain tools to implement riparian protection for industrial, commercial and residential development and their ancillary activities in riparian areas.
Adequate implementation of the above would likely lessen subsequent court actions.