Despite concerns raised by members of the public, municipal council voted unanimously to allow horses at a public beach area on Lakeshore Drive North.
The resolution allows a horse, under the control of a rider, to cross the public beach for the purpose of riding in Okanagan Lake, before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Municipal staff will install signs at the location.
Prior to the meeting, council received a petition, signed by 93 people, opposed to allowing horses at the public beach or in the lake.
Murray Syrnyk, one of those opposed, said the municipality already has bylaws in place prohibiting horses on beaches.
“I’m still stunned that the District of Summerland is even considering a compromise,” he said.
Marilyn Hansen said horses are not allowed on beaches elsewhere in the Okanagan, for health reasons.
She said horses defecating in the water can spread diseases through their feces.
Robert Hacking said horse manure is not toxic to human health.
“I believe we simply should be letting what has occurred safely for many decades to be able to continue in a conscientious and respectful manner,” he said in a letter to council.
Simone Kutos said only a few residents want a ban on horses at the beach.
She added that goose droppings are a greater concern at local beaches.
Members of council said there is an expectation for horse owners to clean up if their horses defecate in the water.
“We are looking for responsible use,” said Mayor Peter Waterman. “If there’s non-compliance, we will shut it down.”