FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A short-term solution by BC Parks to help curb access for partiers to the Charlie Lake Provincial Park boat launch has drawn the ire of several local residents.
In August, staff at the Peace River Regional District sent a letter to BC Parks, asking that a gate be installed to block off the Charlie Lake Provincial Park boat launch near Mile 54.
In her letter, Executive Assistant Kelsey Bates wrote that the boat launch “is not gated and remains open through the winter. The campground is locked up, but the boat launch is still accessible to the public, who have been using the area for parties.”
PRRD Chair and Electoral Area ‘C’ Director Brad Sperling said that he’d heard from residents that the issue of people having parties at the boat launch parking lots in winter when partiers will burn stacks of pallets or couches.
“It’s been getting worse and worse every year, so I had asked if it could be closed in the wintertime because there are other accesses onto that lake for fishing. People will walk past a gate, but they can’t get their party supplies past. I wasn’t aware that they were closing the boat ramp on a permanent basis.”
In a response letter to the PRRD, BC Parks Peace Section Head Lisa Hardy acknowledged that the parks service has dealt with the ongoing party problem during the winter months and has discussed some solutions.
“At this time, staff are in the process of obtaining quotes for the installation of 2 gates to close off the access to the boat launch parking lots and road,” wrote Hardy
She added that BC Parks staff were also going to be erecting a barricade at the boat launch to ensure no vehicles drive over the frozen lake to access the boat launch parking lots over the winter.
Sperling said that while the Regional District had made the request to look at gating the boat launch parking lots, the solution BC Parks has come up with isn’t what they had in mind.
“As far as us asking to close the boat launch permanently, that was not our intent.”
At least one Charlie Lake resident has dropped off a petition at Backcountry in Fort St. John to get BC Parks to reopen the boat launch.
As of Thursday afternoon, 35 residents have signed the petition.