Sandalia dock expansion part of Oroville’s ‘growing pains’

Editorial Gary MugWhile it makes sense for a resort to have a dock for their residence and rather than a little dock for every home on the lake to have a “community” dock, Sandalia Resort’s request to expand their dock is just another example of the growing pains Oroville is going through as more people want to share “our” lake on a more semi-permanent basis.

I’m still getting over the shock of Veranda Beach’s seemingly giant dock – that one is out in the county, so Oroville didn’t really have a say one way or another. Now, just five years after the Oroville Council struggled with approving Sandalia’s, they’re requesting it be expanded and pushed further out into the lake. It’s understandable that as all 34 units are completed they’ll want more slips for residents’ boats. However, they also want the dock to be further out into the lake because, according to residents, it is too shallow for their boats where it is now. Heck it’s too shallow for my little aluminum fishing boats on many areas of the lake.

What I found most amusing at last Tuesday’s Oroville Council meeting and the first part of the public hearing on the dock was the complaints of the water being too shallow. While I don’t know the mix of our Canadian Sandalia residents versus American, you have to laugh when you hear that the lake level is too low on this side of the border and that it is kept too high on the other, covering up the beaches of our neighbors to the north.

No one, not even the city really seems to know what the lake level is, it is set by the International Joint Commission, made up of U.S. and Canadian members, who have decided that the lake should be somewhere between 911 and 912, depending on the conditions.

While we appreciate our Canadian part-time residents of Oroville and while they have always been here in goodly numbers, it is hard to let go of the idea of Osoyoos, at least on this side of the border, being “our” lake. I can’t believe anyone, including the resort goers, want to see the lake so crowded with docks it ruins recreation for everyone. I for one am glad that we have the opportunity to comment on this proposed dock and any large dock proposed in the future. At least we know that Oroville is taking the time to try and find the best way to encourage the economic potential of those who want to join us in enjoying our lake, while balancing the benefits versus the impacts. I’m not entirely convinced that the same goes for those whose homes are outside of the city limits.

Our summer time residents are important to our economy and we welcome them. It was at least partly of them I was able to get out of the orchards and work at Prince’s Foods and later for my dad at the Pastime Tavern. But it is still hard to let go of the idea that everything on this side of the border is “our” lake and everything on the other side is “theirs.”

Let’s hope Oroville (and the county) can strike a balance of between what’s good for the economy and is good for our way of life.

Of course my favorite comment of the evening at the public hearing was what about the No Wake Zone? While I’ve tried to restrain from yelling at the jet skiers who come bombing down the river, yes I say river, between Veterans Park and the dam, I still get too many chances to educate people about the No Wake Zone.

A sign on each side of the bridge and maybe one at the park near the boat launch seems like it would be an inexpensive way to stop such behavior – at least eliminate some of the “I didn’t know” excuses. It’s all part of our growing pains I guess.

To our Canadian visitors, enjoy the lake and have a great summer – come into town and frequent our stores and restaurants. We truly do appreciate your business.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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