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The Future of Kootenay Lake – Community Values Survey Backgrounder

By Contributor
June 15th, 2016

What is the “Future of Kootenay Lake Community Values Survey”?

The Future of Kootenay Lake Community Values Survey is to seek input from local residents, seasonal users, businesses and others with an interest in Kootenay Lake on the current state and future of Kootenay Lake. The survey is a venue to summarize public values from around the lake towards the development of a common vision for its future.

The survey is intended to inform and assist with future decisions on Kootenay Lake management and planning. The Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society is overseeing the work for the Community Values Survey.
Participants in the survey will be able to enter a draw for a $150.00 cash prize. The online survey is open from June 15 to July 15, 2016.

Who is the survey for?

The survey is open to residents, visitors, and businesses in Nelson, Kaslo, or in RDCK electoral areas A (Wynndel/East Shore), D (North Kootenay Lake), E (southern and eastern parts of West Arm), or F (northwestern part of West Arm). You must be 18 years or older to take the survey.  

What will be explored in the Community Values Survey?

The Community Values Survey will ask participants questions about what values are important to them for the future of the lake. A wide range of values will be explored in the survey including those related to environmental, financial, social and cultural interests. The Community Values Survey is a place to highlight your values and concerns regarding: 

  • Water quality and quantity
  • Aquatic ecosystem health
  • Lakeshore access
  • Lakeshore land use
  • Boat launches, docks, and mooring buoys
  • Recreation management for different user groups
  • And others

Why is this different from other planning processes?

While other planning processes for individual communities have stated the importance of the lake for their well-being, no comprehensive vision for the future of the lake exists. The lake is an important asset and priority for all of the surrounding communities and as such is a unifying interest across a diverse group of people.

Given the lake’s importance, it is critical that a comprehensive vision for the lake’s future be developed to manage for ecological, social, cultural, and economic values across jurisdictions.

The Community Values Survey is an important step toward building a common vision and is potentially an important component in any future planning and management for Kootenay Lake.

The survey will provide a snapshot of values around the lake and will highlight commonalities and any differences across the region. The goal of Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society is to have feedback that fairly represents the diverse views of the people who live in or visit the area.

Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in urban residential land use. For example, the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) issued 50% more building permits in 2008 compared to 2002 (AMEC, 2009). Combined with other existing factors such as dam impacts, this has led to increased pressures on the environment (like aquatic habitat) and social aspects of the lake (like recreation and access), with no coordinated vision.

The development of a comprehensive vision will help establish strategies for the future of the lake and improve coordination and direction for the management of the lake.

By taking this survey, participants will help support strategic planning that will potentially enhance their needs and interests.

What other work is ongoing to support the strategic planning and management for Kootenay Lake?
Both community values, cultural values, and environmental science support the development of strategic planning and management initiatives for Kootenay Lake. Different organizations are working on different values to support planning, including:

  • Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society is undertaking this Community Values Survey.
  • Kootenay Lake Partnership (a consortium of various levels of government) is developing a Shoreline Guidance Document. The Shoreline Guidance Document will contain:
  • Information on ecological values based on detailed foreshore mapping and an ecological health index.
  • First Nations cultural values around the lake based on an Archaeological Overview Assessment and a Ktunaxa Nation study on cultural sites.

For more information on the Shoreline Guidance Document, see the Kootenay Lake Partnership website.

What guidance exists for land and lake development?

There are different types of decision-making tools and guidance documents for land and lake development at the local level. Some decision-making tools are specific to local governments and residents, including:

  • Official Community Plans (OCPs)
  • Comprehensive Land Use Bylaws (CLUBs), which contain elements of OCPs and zoning bylaws
  • Lake Management Plans (LMPs)
  • Shoreline management guidelines
  • Zoning
  • Bylaws
  • Building permits

Other regulations fall under provincial and federal governments, such as:

  • Permitting for docks and wharves
  • Installation of mooring buoys
  • Fishing regulations
  • Regulations on navigation and boating

Currently, no comprehensive decision-making or guidance document exists for Kootenay Lake explicitly. That being said, general guidance for protection of fish habitat is in the Land Development Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Habitat. Additionally, Floodplain Management Bylaws dictate setbacks for construction on Kootenay Lake.

Also, a Shoreline Guidance Document for Kootenay Lake is currently being developed.  

In general, all of these plans agree that there are environmental, social/cultural, and economic values around the lake, however each provides different emphasis and policy direction, and there are gaps.

For example, in terms of environmental issues, all of the plans emphasize the importance of water quality and quantity and state their support for water conservation strategies.

However a few plans go a step further and mention the need to prohibit dumping of raw sewage and grey water from watercraft on Kootenay Lake. These plans also suggest investigating options for raw sewage disposal on Kootenay Lake. How much support is there for this action? This Community Values Survey will help dive deeper into this issue and others.

What research has been done on Kootenay Lake to date?

A considerable amount of research has been undertaken on Kootenay Lake. As of 2011, there were over 200 reports on Kootenay Lake in topic areas like foreshore development, water quality and quantity, cultural areas, fish and wildlife, public access, recreation, and navigation (Amec, 2011).

Much of this information is summarized in the Kootenay Lake Stewardship Plan Scoping Study (Amec, 2011), which highlights known information, gaps, and guidance for lake management planning.

In addition, many communities have been engaged in consultation for the development of community plans. All of this information serves as a foundation for strategic planning initiatives for Kootenay Lake.

Who else is involved in supporting this project?

Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society is overseeing the Community Values Survey work. From their Board of Directors, they have appointed a Community Values Survey Committee to work with independent consultants on the development, design, and implementation of the survey.

The Lake Advisory Council, which provides guidance and input to Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society in general, is also involved in providing feedback on the project.

What is the project timeline?

A focus group will be held on June 9 to provide feedback on the content of the Community Values Survey. After this focus group, the Community Values Survey will be launched on June 15 and will be open to July 15, 2016. A workshop will be held in September (TBD) to review results and get feedback from community members. A final report will be available after this workshop in the fall.

For regular updates about the Community Values Survey, contact Friends of Kootenay Lake at

Photo Caption: An aerial picture of Kootenay Lake. — David Gluns photo

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