East Kootenay Integrated Lake Management Partnership

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Detailed Overview

The East Kootenay Integrated Lake Management Partnership (EKILMP) initiative began in 2006 when Fisheries and Oceans Canada invited all levels of government, including Indigenous, and community interest groups to discuss their common concerns, issues and joint responsibilities around water governance. A main driver and shared concern among participants was that increasing housing development and recreation in and around various lakes could damage sensitive shorelines and aquatic habitats. The parties agreed to work together to address issues and concerns in an integrated way to better protect the lakes and their beneficial uses for fish, wildlife, drinking water, heritage, recreation and aesthetic values. The EKILMP was created from these initial discussions.

Activities that Contribute to Watershed Governance

Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping

The EKILMP used Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s methodology for Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping (SHIM) in lakes in the East Kootenay (see text box on page 14 for more detail on this approach). This data served as a foundation to develop and implement guidelines for shoreline development that help protect fish and wildlife values and conserve ecosystems and species of conservation concern. 

Shoreline management guidelines support agencies (most notably FrontCounter BC; the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; and the RDEK) that make decisions about development proposals. The guideline documents are also a tool to provide information to stakeholders, development proponents, agencies and other decision-makers when land use or other activities are proposed that could alter shorelines, thereby impacting fish and/or wildlife habitat or other values. The guidelines do not outline a regulatory permit planning process or prescribe rules around shoreline zoning. Rather, the guidelines contribute to the development of legal mechanisms and rules, such as lake management plans or zoning bylaws, that can address matters such as development and conservation opportunities and trade-offs. 

For example, EKILMP information was used to inform the Lake Windermere Management Plan (LWMP) and Wasa Lake Official Community Plan. In 2015, the EKILMP initiated a SHIM project for the Canadian portion of Koocanusa Reservoir. This data will be used as part of the shoreline management guidelines for Koocanusa Reservoir, as well as to help inform the recreation management planning process.

Establishing A Collaborative, Science-based Model Adaptable to Other Watersheds and Regions

The EKILMP established an approach for various watershed interests to effectively work together. This approach has inspired other groups in the Basin to use similar collaborative approaches focused on issues of lake and watershed health. For example, SHIM was also used by the Kootenay Lake Partnership (KLP) and on Lake Windermere. The approach has also been used by Living Lakes Canada as a model for the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg and Lac la Biche, Alberta.

Attention to Compliance In the early years of the EKILMP, partners adopted a method, based on Fisheries and Oceans Canada design, to examine compliance with shoreline management guidelines in order to monitor the effectiveness of the guidelines. In short, the method involves revisiting lakes and assessing the rate of change of shoreline modifications, reviewing the degree to which land use authorizations are compatible with the guidelines and determining if illegal activities have occurred. Looking ahead, the EKILMP plans to renew its focus on compliance monitoring. 

Role in Watershed Governance

The EKILMP engages in, and supports, watershed governance in the East Kootenay by:

  • convening a broad-based collaborative group that shares information and works together on watershed projects;
  • filling information gaps about ecological health by mapping and classifying ecological values in lake foreshore areas;
  • providing shoreline management guidance documents, which help inform decisions about development authorizations; 
  • using shoreline guidance documents to inform and be incorporated into other planning processes, such as the 2011 LWMP, the Wasa and Area Official Community Plan, and the Lake Koocanusa Recreation Strategy; and
  • developing and implementing monitoring and compliance plans for lakes that have shoreline management guidelines to ensure they are effective.