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It's OK to go boating again -- but, only south of the bridge

As things start to return to normal after the Central Okanagan wildfires, part of Okanagan Lake is again open to boaters, jet skis, canoers, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders.

It's all allowed south of the Bennett Bridge or north of Fintry.

However, north of the bridge in the vicinity of Kelowna and West Kelowna, which includes the busy stretch in front of downtown Kelowna, Kelowna Yacht Club and West Harbour remains closed to boat traffic.

That's because aerial crews fighting the McDougall Creek wildfire in West Kelowna still need access to the lake so helicopters can bucket water and air tankers can scoop up water.

People are allowed to take their boat out of Kelowna Yacht Club if they stay close to shore and immediately go under the bridge to boat on the south side of the bridge.

Boaters from Kelowna Yacht Club would not be allowed to go north beyond Fintry because they would have to travel through waters needed by firefighting aircraft.

The police are also asking people not to launch their boats north of the bridge, even if they intend to go directly to waters south of the bridge.

The boat launch at the Hotel Eldorado, well south of the bridge, should be used.

</who>It's OK to get back out on Okanagan Lake, but only south of the bridge at this point.

On Thursday of last week, as the fires heated up, marinas and the RCMP asked boaters to stay moored during the state of emergency.

The request also extended to stand-up paddleboarders, kayakers and canoeists who might venture farther from shore and get in the way of firefighting aircraft.

The ban did not prevent people from going to the beach, even if it was ultra-smoky, and taking a dip close to shore if they wanted to.

The police haven't fined any rogue boaters.

However, they have stopped some boaters out on the water and asked them to return to shore and stopped some boaters from launching their boats.

Since then, the fire, smoke and visibility situations have all improved.

Shelter Bay Marina, which has moorage for 450 boats at the southwest end of the bridge, sent out a notice to members and boaters today.

It read: "For those of you who are wanting to venture out of the marina basin, please stay south of the bridge for everyone's safety. Lake access is still required for active firefighting on the north side of the bridge and the RCMP are actively patrolling the area of the lake to keep it clear."</who>The RCMP and marinas had been asking for people to stay off the lake while fire crews used the water for helicopter and air tanker pick ups.

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