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About Hotel Lake

“What we know is a drop, what we don't know is an ocean”.

 — Isaac Newton —


"Hotel Lake is shallow with extensive mud bottom at the north end. Water temperatures rise above 20 degrees in late April or early May resulting in algae and plankton blooms if nitrate and phosphate levels are not kept in check by micro-organisms, insects and fish in the shallow areas. AAQWA recorded fish kills in 2004 – the cause undetermined."

Joe Harrison

 Quoted from an Area A Quality Water Association (AAQWA) Forum Letter, published Feb 13, 2007




The answer to the above question is simply…everything!  Photographs taken of Hotel Lake, looking down from the summit of Pender Hill are breathtakingly  beautiful.  At ground level, parts of the lake can be viewed from many vantage points but, nowhere can the whole lake be seen at once because of the many bays and headlands. This contributes to the allure of the lake and also generates the feeling that the lake is much larger than it is. 

To develop a three dimensional understanding of any lake it is useful to look at lake bottom contour maps; these are very popular with fishermen and anglers who use the depth information to help them find fish.  But for the rest of us, these maps provide a way to develop a profound understanding of the limitations of Hotel Lake.  The map below shows the bottom contour lines in metres and as you can see the maximum depth is about 10 metres, about 33 feet which is very shallow for lakes in this area.

Now look at the contour lines carefully; where they are close together, the contour of the lake bottom is very steep and where they are far apart the contour is almost flat or horizontal. One might look at the map and conclude the lake has three deep basins but this is misleading as we will show.  We have drawn a red line across the deepest parts of this 1.2 kilometer-long lake.  Imagine if we cut the lake here and look sideways at the water, what would that look like?


The long red line drawn across Hotel Lake is 1.1 kilometres long. Using that reference a scaled representation of the lake bottom was created by using the contour-line-depths to guide us. The rather surprising graphic below is what emerged.  Here is the long and shallow Hotel Lake with a "stick-family"  shown. Although, hard to see we placed  5 scaled-down stick families stacked on the lake bottom to add a sense of scale.

A useful comparison of all the lakes in North Pender is made possible by this chart from a 1992 report by Westland Resources Group.

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spender lakes

We must always remember that there are six lakes in the North Pender area  and Hotel Lake has the shallowest mean depth, and is the second-smallest in volume. 

The small area, volume and mean depth of Hotel Lake limit the lake’s ability to sustain itself.  For example, drawing a large volume of water from this lake would lower the surface level and allow sunlight to reach additional areas of the lake bottom. This would encourage plant growth which would, in turn, affect water quality and the lake’s foreshore and its habitats. 


This draw down of lake water actually did happen and is part of the lake’s history. In 2003, the needs of developing communities at Daniel Point and Sakinaw Ridge caused water level in the lake to reached such low levels that exposed areas of the foreshore were a concern to people on and near the lake. The formation of AAQWA was a response to this concern. Eventually AAQWA succeeded in bringing the case, with three of its members as appellants, before the Environmental Review Board. An article entitled “West Coast Environmental Law Helps Sunshine Coast”, available in the Library of this website, provides an excellent summary of the events leading up to the appeal. 


An enormous amount of work was required to bring the issue of water licence transfers on Hotel Lake to a successful conclusion and we remain indebted to Joe Harrison and Area A rep John Reese and the members of AAQWA for all the work and time invested. Andrew Gage, Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund liaison lawyer, commented: “This decision represents one of the first real

efforts of the board to grapple with a precautionary approach to environmental problems. Recognizing that uncertainty does exist, the EAB found that ‘prudent water management practice dictates a cautious approach in this case.’ The board’s recognition that large amounts of water should not be transferred without careful study is encouraging.”

To continue the work of AAQWA, this time in an advisory capacity, we will begin collecting information and sharing it.


Along the way we hope to provide answers to questions like these: How is the Ministry of Fisheries involved with our lake?, How does our watershed and aquifer work? What actually does it mean to be a "headwater lake"?  What is eutrophication? What is social or artificial eutrophication and how are humans involved?

We have a lot more questions, but fortunately we have discovered that in addition to scientific studies and papers, there are local experts, many who are knowledgeable empathetic neighbours, who have answers too. Please give our website life and purpose by sharing your questions and knowledge. 

A number of ministries within the BC and Federal governments have interest in or jurisdiction over lakes and their associated wildlife.  Within this multi-jurisdictional oversight a fundamental problem looms for Hotel Lake and its wildlife.  When plans arise that might affect Hotel Lake, and the natural wildlife, they need to be carefully considered.  The small size and depth of Hotel Lake and its vulnerability to over-use and to eutrophication must always be a primary consideration and an informed public will be well placed to assist when consultation takes place.


To be able to speak, individually, on behalf of Hotel Lake, its watershed and wildlife, it would be better if everyone concerned was well prepared.  The historic work done by AAQWA was a great example of what can be done when residents came together in a common defence of Hotel Lake's water level. However, in our happy complacency after that success, we have allowed AAQWA to fade. Now is the time to go to work again, this time, in an advisory capacity.  This time, we will adjust our focus and work towards the gathering and sharing of information about Hotel Lake, its watershed, plant life and wildlife. By gathering and sharing this information, we hope everyone will be able to make better decisions and to encourage better decision making and outcomes by governments so as to slow down or perhaps even reverse eutrophication in Hotel Lake. 


With your support the Hotel Lake Advisory Association, will give us all an opportunity to learn and to help build a healthier tomorrow.

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