In an effort to protect Whistler's busy lakes, council is considering a ban on "the residential use of boats" on its five lakes.
That would mean that people can no longer spend the night on their boats, and more importantly, it reduces the chances of people dumping their sewage into the lake.
Council gave first and second reading to the zoning amendment bylaw (Live Aboard Uses) at Tuesday's meeting, paving the way for a public hearing on the change.
The bylaw amendment was sparked in part by a letter from Greg Groff, who emailed council last summer about his concerns regarding the sailboats that are permanently moored on Alta Lake — some of which he suspects have people spending the night on board at least a few times a week over the summer.
"When they're living on it or staying overnight on it, I think we've got some other issues," said Groff this week. "These boats aren't big enough to have holding tanks, and if they did have holding tanks, the boat is parked there all summer, they're not cleaning out the holding tank."
Groff rows the lake several mornings a week and sees firsthand the potential for impacts on the lake.
There is no moorage facility on Alta Lake that can manage sewage discharge.
In his report to council, municipal planning analyst Kevin Creery wrote: "...boat sewage is easy to dispose of discreetly. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to monitor and enforce against any violations of these rules."
Groff said a few years ago there were no boats moored on the lake; this past summer there were four. He is concerned that in a few years there will be even more, with more impacts on the water quality.
If the zoning amendment bylaw is adopted, bylaw officers will be able to issue a municipal ticket to enforce the prohibition of the residential use.
The change will not impact the recreational day use of boats or restrict boat access to the lakes.
Groff said he was pleased to see council taking action.
"I'm not trying to be a killjoy about this whole thing, but I think it's a legitimate concern and I think it needs to be dealt with, or at least I hope council does something about it," he said. "I don't think it's fair to all the other people that use the lake."
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