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Alta Lake barges need rules

LETTER: For the week of Aug. 8

After reading the article in last month's Pique ("The slippery slope of impaired dinghy-ing," July 25) regarding "the rules on land or at sea," I'm pleased to see that after receiving a letter from Jan Tindle suggesting an electric motor bylaw for Alta Lake that the RMOW staff is looking into the matter and will bring review to council.

Most people I've spoken with, especially young people, are in complete support of allowing electric motors only. The majority believe it is overdue and will greatly reduce pollution and noise.

I believe a few exceptions could be made for commercial operators who need gas-powered motors for safety reasons.

I hope the staff and council will consider whether these barges and their operators need to abide by the same rules as those on land and water. As the article pointed out, these barges are watercraft vessels, yet they are not required to abide by the same mandatory safety requirements and laws that apply to all other watercraft vessels.

Also, I think staff and council should review whether the operators of barges should be subject to the same bylaws that apply to others in public places, such as parks, where alcohol consumption and fires are prohibited and noise levels are restricted from dusk to dawn.

In addition, I would like to ask council and staff to consider the impact of the growing number of barges on Alta Lake. As it is now, owners have moored barges in environmentally sensitive areas and abandoned barges have been found there as well. As numbers continue to grow, I hope staff and council will think about how to manage the numbers, the moorage and the cleanup.

Allowing electric motors only is a good place to start and I hope more policy will follow to ensure the safe, peaceful enjoyment of Alta Lake for all, while preserving the natural environment and the historic quiet, laidback atmosphere that Alta Lake is appreciated for.

Ken Mason // Whistler