Here at the Lake Windermere Ambassadors, we get lots of inquiries from the community about mooring buoys and the placement of them. We thought we would do our best to pull some of the most pertinent information together to make researching your specific situation a bit easier. An important thing to understand is that there are multiple layers to mooring buoy regulations in Lake Windermere depending on a few different factors.
*Please note that the Lake Windermere Ambassadors are a non-profit organization that focuses on water monitoring and community education about our watershed, we do not write bylaws or enforce them. The purpose of this article is to pull some resources together to make researching your specific mooring buoy situation a little easier. Please forward any questions or concerns regarding mooring buoy bylaws to the appropriate governing body. *
Where can you place a mooring buoy?
The most important and necessary restriction on buoy placement is making sure they don’t interfere with boat navigation or mislead boaters. In the case of an accident involving an interfering buoy, the buoy owner may be found liable and will have to pay for damages. This is set out by the Navigational Protection Act and is enforced by Transport Canada.
See more info from Transport Canada: Private Buoy Regulations (justice.gc.ca)
Can you place a NEW mooring buoy?
In 2012, the Regional District of East Kootenay led a grandfathering process and inventory on mooring buoys in Lake Windermere making the existing mooring buoys at the time of the inventory legally non-conforming. Any new buoys placed after the grandfathering process are subject to the bylaws below.
Where on Lake Windermere can you place a mooring buoy?
As to where on the lake buoys can be placed, this is determined by the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK), and the District of Invermere (DOI) zoning bylaws. These zones include residential (private), group (community), institutional (public access), and commercial. They all come with specific permitted uses and regulations.
NOTE: It is important to know that the boundary for James Chabot Provincial Park extends 100m into the lake from the high watermark. This means no buoys are to be left in this area as it is illegal.
Overview of regulations of mooring buoys for RDEK zones include: (Maps below)
- Residential zones (LW-1): Maximum of 2 mooring buoys per property
- Group zones (LW-2): Regulations specific to each Group Mooring zone (ie: Baltac)
- Group zone Windermere (LW-2(A)): Maximum of 45 boats moored in the zone
- Institutional zones (LW-3): No overnight mooring
- Commercial (LW-4): Regulations specific to each commercial mooring zone
Please find corresponding maps for RDEK here:
- A16 Lake Windermere South: mxd (rdek.bc.ca)
- A17 Lake Windermere Mid: mxd (rdek.bc.ca)
- A18 Lake Windermere North: mxd (rdek.bc.ca)
Regional District of East Kootenay Bylaws (see link for more information):
Regulations of mooring buoys for DOI zones include: (see DOI bylaw document for map below)
- Residential zones (W-1): Maximum of 1 mooring buoys per property
- Group zones (W-2): None
- Institutional zones (W-3): No overnight mooring
- Commercial (W-4): None
DOI Bylaw and map (map at bottom of this document):
Where within the zones on Lake Windermere can you place a mooring buoy?
It is important to note, that while LW-1 and W-1 zones permit buoys mentioned above, the installation is impractical or impossible for many. If you have found an appropriate zone to place your buoy, you will also need to determine where within the zone is the best place. The Lake Windermere Management Plan states that mooring buoys should be placed 12 to 30 meters away from the high-water mark, as well as at least 12 meters away from any other mooring buoy.
Mooring Buoy specifications
(See exact requirements from Transport Canada: Private Buoy Regulations (justice.gc.ca))
Most of the existing mooring buoys on the lake belong to private residents or community associations. Never moor a boat to a navigational buoy such as a no wake zone or swimming area buoy.
If you are going to place a buoy in the water be aware that they need to follow the Canadian Shipping Act’s Private Buoy Regulations.
Private Buoy Regulations include:
- The part of the buoy that shows above the surface of the water must be at least 15.25 cm wide and at least 30.5 cm high to remain visible to boaters.
- Must display the word “PRIV” in large capital letters on both sides of the buoy in contrasting colour to that of the buoy. (see photo below)
- White when buoy in green, red or black
- Black when buoy is white or yellow
- Must display buoy owner’s current name address and telephone number in a permanent and legible manner.
- Must be constructed so that the buoy is properly anchored and stays in position
Other requirements and penalties for improper mooring buoy practices
*If the below conditions are not met, Transport Canada can remove any buoy or can request additional modifications. As well, under the Canada Shipping Act, persons failing to follow the legislated guidelines are liable on summary conviction to potential fines. *
One last important thing to consider is the colours and symbols on the buoy. Just like roadways, water navigation follows a strict colour and shape symbol code. The proper style of a buoy for mooring is coloured white and orange with the orange colour covering the top one-third of the buoy above the waterline. If it has a light, it must be yellow and must conform to light guidelines in the Canadian Aids to Navigation System. The private buoy must not confuse boaters by displaying improper colours and shapes that are designated in the Canadian Buoyage System.
A mooring anchor must be heavy enough to hold the boat securely in place and withstand movement in high winds. If you want to weigh down the boat with concrete be aware that dried concrete loses about 42% of its weight when fully submerged. Other anchors such as mushroom anchors, screw anchors and pyramid anchors work by embedding themselves into the bottom with the right substrate conditions.
When attaching a chain follow guidelines from the size and weight of the buoy. Two chains, a lighter chain on top and heavier chain on the bottom is recommended. Ensure the chain is not excessively long because it can rub against the bottom of the lake and have negative effects on aquatic life living in the sea bed.
Can I make my own buoy?
There are homemade buoys that will meet these requirements. A homemade buoy must be durable to withstand weather and water conditions, very visible, and can absorb boat impacts. Rigid plastic foam and rigid moulded plastic buoys work well because they are lightweight and can withstand impacts. Do not use steel drums, barrels, propane cylinders, bleach bottles or jugs as buoys. Steel buoys withstand weather conditions but can cause extensive damage if hit by a boat.
You must ensure the buoy is constructed and maintained well because in the event of an accident, private owners may be found liable for any damages resulting from negligent operation.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to be a starting point for your research on your mooring buoy situation – it may not contain all necessary information depending on the situation so further research is encouraged.
BC Government Mooring Buoy FAQ’s
Transport Canada: Owners Guide to Private Buoys
Transport Canada: Navigational Protection Program Info
Canadian Coast Guard: Floating Aids to Navigation (Buoy) Info
Fisheries and Oceans: The Canadian Aids to Navigation System
- Private Buoy Regulations (justice.gc.ca))
- mxd (rdek.bc.ca)
- mxd (rdek.bc.ca)
- mxd (rdek.bc.ca)