September 30 to November 25, 2023
Look after the land and the land will look after you,
destroy the land and it will destroy you.
Fieldwork: practical work conducted by a researcher in the natural environment rather than in a laboratory or office
Luxury: the state of great comfort and extravagant living *
Because they tend to be rather dry and uneventful I rarely attend the District of Lake Country Council meetings. Yet, on one Tuesday evening (August 15th to be precise) my curiosity got the best of me, and I tuned in to a live stream. The agenda for this particular council meeting revolved around a discussion concerning a new development at what was once a family campground known as Owl's Nest in Oyama (one of the four wards in Lake Country).
An out-of-province company with the motto 'We create the environments for amazing lives to happen' is in the process of transforming the former Owl's Nest property. Their ambitious plan involves the creation of ’38 Net Zero Luxury Homes on the picturesque shores of Kalamalka Lake, which happens to be one of the most breathtaking lakes in the Okanagan Valley.
The highlight of the evening was a presentation by the Chief Operating Officer who sought Council’s approval to install 20 motorized boat slips (down from the initial proposal of 38) on the waterfront for the use of the residents. During the meeting, several Council members voiced concerns about water intake sites, boat traffic, lake preservation, and environmental impact. It was evident, however, that not all councillors shared the same level of concern regarding these matters.
The presentation to Council included a promise to uphold the utmost respect for the lake, with a commitment to do everything they possibly can to ensure that the residents and users of this property have a very keen and clear understanding of their responsibility here. The plan also mentioned placing interpretative signage near the beach to educate the residences about the lake's history, ecological formations, and Indigenous history in the area.
I bring up this council meeting presentation because we are all integral members of our community, and the way we choose to treat our land, lakes, flora, and fauna collectively reflects upon us. What piques my curiosity most is the planned installation of interpretive signs.
Who will be responsible for crafting the code of conduct and accountability? What are the consequences if the code of conduct is not upheld?
Whose values will serve as the foundation for this code?
When it comes to chronicling the history of Kalamalka Lake, whose narrative will take precedence? Will it encompass Indigenous history, and if so, whose voice and perspective will be represented?
What about climate change? Will there be commentary on the risks to the lake ecosystem regarding motorized recreation?
In fairness, a company specializing in aquatic biology consulting was mentioned regarding guidance on the proposed signage, but the idea seems perplexing. How does it happen that one develops luxury homes including water access for recreational motorized watercraft, writes a code of conduct on protecting our lakes, includes a note on Indigenous history, and aims to make a profit while considering the environment and future generations? It all seems absurd. Who demands this 'luxury,' and why is it being delivered? And for whom? Does simply saying 'Net Zero' make everything acceptable?
Climate change is no longer a distant concern; it's an undeniable reality. Floods, droughts, forest fires, and unusual seasonal temperatures affect us all. When we also consider our social responsibilities, it becomes evident that charting a course for the future requires strong leadership. Yet, there are moments when looking at our elected officials can leave us feeling disheartened and uncertain about the path ahead.
The Owl's Nest development is just one among several in Lake Country. While it's easy to identify flaws in planning and the significant transformations occurring in our landscape, the inexorable march of progress continues. But is building luxury homes instead of affordable and accessible housing a sign of progress?
However, seeking alternative perspectives remains crucial to enrich our discussions. Turning to the realm of the arts offers us a valuable means to contemplate the questions that confront us in these times.
Being informed and actively engaged in our community is the groundwork we can all do to ensure a healthy future.
Will our local elected officials visit the Lake Country Art Gallery to view this Fieldwork exhibition? Probably not, unfortunately. But you are here, reading this gallery didactic, and that's a start.
Aboriginal proverb, from 50 Best Earth Day Quotes 2023, goodhousekeeping.com
Fieldwork definition, from google
Luxury definition, from google