OKIB and RDNO work collaboratively to see this historically significant Syilx beach come to life again

The new agreement in place will allow RDNO to maintain and enforce bylaw at Sandy Beach in Vernon B.C.

The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) has signed an agreement with the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO), to ensure a historically significant beach to the Okanagan Nation is maintained to mutual benefit.

“The beach will be maintained by the RDNO year around with beach raking during the summer and will be kept at a standard applied to all Electoral Area B and C parks and trails,” the joint press release from July 14 states

“Sandy Beach will now fall under the RDNO’s parks bylaw, which will allow for the RDNO to enforce against littering and vandalism. Additionally, the RDNO can now enforce the ban on fires and dogs on the beach.” 

As IndigiNews reported, there have been challenges maintaining the beach in the past. Now this four-year agreement will address those issues. 

What used to be known as Sandy Beach will also be given a Nsyilxcen name to represent the historical significance on this beach in the North Okanagan. 

“Our occupancy and use, such as an important fishery and as a gathering point for our people and visitors, is a matter of public and oral record. Trade and commerce were conducted here, as were celebrations. We are happy to see an agreement that will ensure the beach is maintained to a high standard,” says OKIB Chief Byron Louis in the release.

Previous reporting by Infotel, stated that the beach was under new authority, and additionally, Sandy Beach which would fall under the new Bylaw would also allow people with no fixed address to camp on the beach.

A new statement released to IndigiNews on July 16, 2020, from RDNO provides clarity on this new agreement with the OKIB.

“The RDNO and OKIB is grateful for the partnership and collaboration between our two organizations. We look forward to having this amenity available to everyone, both the general public and band members, and to working with the OKIB every step of the way,” The new statement says.

“In no way are we suggesting that the RDNO has acquired this land. The land remains the property of the OKIB.”

Because Sandy Beach remains privately owned land by OKIB and it’s members, camping on the beach is still prohibited at all hours.

“We would like to stress that the RDNO does not allow camping on beaches.” RDNO states.  

“However, consistent with decisions by the Supreme Court, individuals without fixed address have a right to shelter on public lands. Consequently, for these people, the RDNO is regulating when they can utilize this right to shelter.” 

“We are excited to share that we’ve received the beach raking equipment, so a full sweep of the beach is expected to take place in the next couple weeks. This will remove the washed-up debris and will make the sand more enjoyable for beach-goers,” RDNO media relations states.

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