City of Williams Lake presses province to expand aquatic vegetation harvester permit

The city’s weed harvester in action on Williams Lake Tuesday, Oct. 12. (Scott Nelson photo)The city’s weed harvester in action on Williams Lake Tuesday, Oct. 12. (Scott Nelson photo)
The city is permitted to use the weed harvester only in the areas marked by red on this map provided by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Water Management. 
(Image submitted)The city is permitted to use the weed harvester only in the areas marked by red on this map provided by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Water Management. (Image submitted)
Did you know the northern-most population of painted turtles live in Williams Lake? (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Did you know the northern-most population of painted turtles live in Williams Lake? (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake City Council is applying political pressure in an effort to have a provincial permit to harvest aquatic vegetation in the lake expanded.

“Under council’s direction, the city has sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development requesting a discussion to determine next steps to address the ongoing struggle to maintain the aquatic vegetation growth in our lake to something that is practical, and balances safety and aesthetic issues with aquatic wildlife protection,” noted a press release issued by the city recently.

Currently the city has a limited permit issued last year to remove aquatic vegetation at the existing public areas of Scout Island and Dutch Point boat launches, Scout Island public beach, and within the vicinity of the aerodrome where float planes land on the northern shore of Williams Lake near Scout Island, at depths no less than two metres.

All works must take place between October 15 until the lake freezes.

Protection of painted turtle habitat and other aquatic vegetation was cited as the reason why the city was granted only a limited permit from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations. Under the permit, the city is also required to hire a qualified professional that has experience in handling Western Painted Turtles and knowledge of their life cycle who will accompany crews running the harvester.

The city’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Gary Muraca said they need an expansion of the approved areas to harvest if they are to have measurable vegetation control in the lake, suggesting the province approve a larger area before the lake freezes for the winter.

The city noted the harvester was put into use Oct. 18, 2021 by the city’s certified operators in Williams Lake, accompanied by a professional biologist to monitor for the western painted turtle and other aquatic life. “Operating within the permitted area for a total of six hours, approximately four wheelbarrow loads of vegetation were extracted, with no aquatic life detected,” noted the city.

Mayor Walt Cobb noted the city has received numerous complaints and concerns from residents and visitors to the community regarding the volume of aquatic vegetation in the lake.

Read More: Williams Lake City Council endorses recommendation encouraging residents to get vaccinated


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