Local Conservation Fund Feature: Kootenay Lake Shoreline Guidance Document

The future of Kootenay Lake’s shoreline is bright thanks to the work being done by the Kootenay Lake Partnership.

The Kootenay Lake Shoreline Guidance Document was initiated in 2012 by the Kootenay Lake Partnership, a government-to-government partnership brought together to support collaborative approaches to shoreline management in response to an increase in development pressure on Kootenay Lake.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada completed a Foreshore Inventory and Mapping project on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake in 2004, and again in 2008. Within that timeframe the level of impact increased, amount of land designated as urban residential increased, and a net loss in riparian vegetation was recorded. More than 300 new docks and groynes were built in that timeframe.

This past summer, the Kootenay Lake Partnership hosted a series of public open houses in Boswell, Rural Nelson, and Kaslo that were attended by close to 200 people eager to learn about the recently completed Kootenay Lake Shoreline Guidance Document —
the result of a comprehensive Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping Project, which involved an inventory and assessment of ecological, archaeological and Ktunaxa cultural values along the shoreline of Kootenay Lake.

The intent of the Shoreline Guidance Document is to allow common, low-risk shoreline activities to proceed with minimal application requirements, but where risks are higher, it guides proponents to seek professional oversight. The document consolidates existing regulations in an effort to streamline the regulatory process, and provides a level of certainty for shoreline property owners and developers on what will be required during the application process.

“During the public open houses we heard from many attendees that they were supportive of the efforts of the Partnership to clarify the complexities of existing regulation on the lake, and in identifying sensitivities along the shoreline for protection from development pressures,” said Kootenay Lake Partnership Chair Heather Leschied, noting that while a significant number of structures, including groynes docks and retaining walls were documented during the project’s field work, 63 per cent of the shoreline remains in a natural condition.

“The Shoreline Guidance Document for Kootenay Lake is precedent setting across the province, if not the country,” Leschied said. “Similar projects have been completed for 12 other lakes in the Columbia Basin, in Alberta and Manitoba, but Kootenay Lake is the first time archaeological values and First Nation cultural values have been incorporated alongside ecological values, within the Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping protocol.”

The next steps of the Partnership are to refine the Document based on feedback from the open houses, and work with partners to implement and incorporate the document into local planning initiatives.

The goal is to protect and restore important fish and wildlife habitats, and to ensure archaeological values and Ktunaxa cultural values are considered during the planning and permit application process.

Click here for the Kootenay Lake Shoreline Guidance Document, link to the interactive mapping tool, and list of Frequently Asked Questions on the Kootenay Lake Partnership website.

The Kootenay Lake Local Conservation Fund was used to support outreach on the document.

The Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP) in partnership with the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) provides funding for projects that benefit conservation in the rural areas around Kootenay Lake through the Kootenay Lake Local Conservation Fund (KLLCF). The purpose of the KLLCF is to provide local financial support for important projects that will contribute to the conservation of our valuable natural areas; one step towards restoring and preserving a healthy environment.