City council approves new dock regulations at Schwatka Lake

Whitehorse city council agreed last night to allow for more dock sites on Schwatka Lake's western shore.

Whitehorse city council agreed last night to allow for more dock sites on Schwatka Lake’s western shore.

The Schwatka Lake Waterfront Policy, adopted in 1995 and reviewed four years later, made it impossible for new dock sites to be permitted.

That’s because there once was a strong desire to limit the extent of shore use and the risk of lake contamination.

According to a report from administration, Schwatka Lake was used as the City’s primary drinking water source until 2010, when it switched to using well water.

Now, administration has replaced the aging policy with more modern regulations. It says a controlled increase in the number of dock sites “is not anticipated to have a significant adverse effect on water quality.”

The new policy, titled the Schwatka Lake Dock Policy, allows for the creation of new dock sites while making environmental protection a high priority.

As it stands, there are 18 dock sites on the lake’s western shore with annual permits. Sixteen operators are on a wait list for a dock.

The Schwatka Lake Area Plan, passed by city council last year, identified locations for up to 14 new sites to be opened, which would be phased in over time.

After council passed the plan, the cost of a new dock permit increased to $300, up from $75.

Erica Beasley, a planner with the City, told council last week she wasn’t sure if that would contribute to a decrease in applications, as the deadline is March 31.

She said the most significant change in the new policy is the introduction of dock development and maintenance standards.

“The original policy didn’t include any standards, which has created enforcement challenges for administration in terms of ensuring that docks are kept in good order,” she said.

“It’s also something we heard a number of times during our consultation process.”

Included in the new standards are specifications for attachments to shore, restrictions in terms of dock dimensions, and a requirement for site restoration following the end of use on site, Beasley explained.

Other changes include a requirement for dock operators to have a fuel spill kit on site during fuel handling.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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