As a community, Penticton has been extremely lucky to have Okanagan Lake as a place for tourists and residents alike to swim and enjoy the water, all the way from the Peach on the Beach to the SS Sicamous.
While swimming recently, I neared the Sicamous and I was taken aback to be approached by someone operating a motorized watercraft rental business who waded into the water and told me I could not swim there. He pointed to two new signs erected on the beach indicating “Boating Area” and “Day Moorage”.
I was perturbed to learn that there is now a new boating-only area at the west end of Okanagan Beach, immediately east of the SS Sicamous, in a spot that has until now been available for swimming. The portion of beach and water in question is normally frequented each summer by recreational swimmers and by hundreds of hopeful competitors preparing for Ironman Canada and other athletic events.
The setting aside of this small portion of the beach and water exclusively for boat traffic and moorage is a case of encroachment of motorized traffic at the expense of healthy, non-polluting, recreational activities such as swimming. It sets an extremely bad precedent.
A better location for motorized boat traffic, moorage and a watercraft rental company would be either of the docks currently operating at the Hooded Merganser and Rotary Park, or from the unused pier extending north from the SS Naramata. I hope that all interested swimmers and beach-goers will bring this to the attention of Penticton city council.