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Breakwater builder put kokanee at risk

Daily Courier
Friday, April 24, 1992

A company whose work put Kokanee sport fishing at risk in Okanagan Lake was fined in court Thursday.

It was carelessness, not a profit motive, that led to Hume-Smith Contracting building a breakwater in the lake without ensuring the property owner had the necessary permits under the Water Act and Fisheries Act.

The company was fined $1,100, a little less than the $1,500 levied earlier against the homeowner who hired the company to do excavation work.

Judge Dennis Overend said the key difference in this case, compared to others, was the company didn’t turn a blind eye to regulations for a profit and no actual harm occurred to the fish habitat where the work was carried out.

Prosecutor Norm Yates said an estimated 4,800 Kokanee salmon spawn annually in the area where the work was done.

Building the breakwater at the end of April last year caused mud and silt to cover the gravel spawning bed.

After about six hours of work, neighbors noticed silt extending about 300 metres into the lake and notified authorities. Neighbors were concerned because they obtain their domestic water from the lake.

The breakwater was removed two months after construction was completed. Once removed, the spawning bed appeared to return to normal.

Yates wanted a sentence that would deter others from carrying out such work without approval.

“Shore owners too often feel they can do what they want to do when they own property adjacent to the foreshore,” he said. He sought a $5,000 fine, saying increased fines approved by Parliament reflect public concern about protecting the environment.

Yates said a conservation officer quoted a spokesman for the company saying contractors have done similar work in the lake “hundreds of times without a permit. This time we just got caught.”