Blue-green algae on Elk/Beaver Lake. Photo taken in 2013. Black Press File.

Blue-green algae blooms could sink bid to host national rowing centre in Saanich

Rowing Canada Aviron has expressed concern about excessive weed growth on Elk/Beaver Lake.

Saanich hopes to become a national training site for rowers representing Canada, but environmental and regulatory concerns could sink the bid.

The Victoria City Rowing Club (VCRC) could find out later this fall if Rowing Canada Aviron, Canada’s national rowing body, will choose the training site at Elk/Beaver Lake Lake Regional Park as the home base for the national training program.

RELATED: Saanich’s Elk/Beaver Lake to undergo remediation

The national centre would open in 2020 and run at least until 2032 if the Rowing Canada Aviron were to choose the Saanich site, which already hosts national, Olympic and Para-Olympic athletes. Other users include Victoria City Rowing Club, the University of Victoria Rowing Team, and the Greater Victoria Youth Rowing Society.

But issues remain. While VCRC’s bid has made the shortlist, Rowing Canada has expressed concern with weed growth.

Elk/Beaver Lake has a history of blue-green algae blooms, whose frequency has increased in recent years, according to a report from the Capital Regional District (CRD).

“More targeted weed removal may be required to ensure the larger 2 km course remains free of weed growth,” it reads.

Regional authorities currently operate a weed harvester, which the report claims “has been effective in controlling weed growth.”

But the environmental state of Elk/Beaver Lake caught the attention of Rowing Canada Aviron, as the region stands to lose a yet-to-be-determined amount of additional spending in the form of salaries, programming, athlete support and operations. A recent report recently warned of this very scenario.

RELATED: CRD steps up efforts to improve Elk/Beaver Lake water quality

(VCRC pays the CRD an annual lease of $6,000 and spends more than 50,000 annually to cover maintenance and facility upgrades).

Other obstacles remain. If the VCRC were to receive the winning bid, it may end up expanding its current facilities by at least 25 per cent. Such a revision would require public consultation and changes to the Elk/Beaver Lake management. It calls for a range of uses and public feedback has so far not gone beyond local representatives of the fishing community.

The terms of the bid call on VCRC to establish what the CRD calls “priority usage” with the hitch that fulfillment of this condition would require changes to federal regulations.

“Should Rowing Canada Aviron require a change to federal regulations to establish priority use, [VCRC] would need to initiate an extensive public consultation process,” it reads. “As the management plan identifies areas and hours of use, any changes would require an amendment to the management plan.”

In short, VCRC’s bid, which also involves Electoral Area B – Shawnigan Lake in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, is not yet in safe harbour.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Royal B.C. Museum reopens in phases, some galleries remain closed to start summer

Victoria museum and archives open first galleries June 19

Greater Victoria’s first BC Cannabis Store could open at Saanich shopping centre

Store application for Uptown Shopping Centre headed for public hearing

MISSING: Victoria police on the lookout for woman last seen April 28

Leah Parker, 41, is described five-foot-five and about 140 pounds with brown/blonde hair, blue eyes

Bears spotted near Saanich lake spooked by police, wandered off

Bear, cub not seen over weekend but police ask residents to be on alert

Victoria’s 75,000 veggie plants ready to find a home

New gardeners line-up for Get Growing Victoria

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

B.C. drive-in theatre appeals COVID-19 concession rules, 50-car limit

With 50 cars and the removal of concession sales, drive-in owner says theatre might have to close

COVID-19: B.C. grants aim to stabilize sexual assault recovery programs

$10 million fund not yet ready to take applications

Case of missing Vancouver Island woman inspires new true crime podcast

‘Island Crime’ Season 1 covers 2002 disappearance of Nanaimo’s Lisa Marie Young

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

Most Read