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Illegal parking at Cultus Lake puts locals, visitors at risk, resident says

Last Updated Jul 28, 2020 at 8:25 am PDT

A Cultus Lake resident has penned an open letter asking people not to illegally park on the only road in and out of the community. She says doing so hinders emergency response to the area, putting others at risk. (Screenshot video courtesy Facebook/Katrina Clow)
Summary

Lack of enforcement leaves Cultus Lake residents fighting for emergency vehicle access

Emergency pullouts are to accommodate ambulances, police and fire, but beachgoers have been parking in them, local says

First responders delayed up to an hour-and-a-half, says Cultus Lake resident

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – Illegally parked Cultus Lake beachgoers are being called out for putting others at risk.

It’s a “beautiful destination” and “great place for family fun,” says a resident of the Cultus Lake area, who’s begging people to behave better as they flock to the lake.

Katrina Clow says hundreds of families live on the lake’s south-west side, in Lindell Beach and Columbia Valley, and they’re safety is on the line when people park in emergency pullouts.

“There is only one road in or out to the communities on the west end of the lake” Clow writes in an open letter to area visitors.

“The no parking zones on the sides of the road may seem like an easily ignored inconvenience to many of you who can’t find space in the lot at your beach of choice. However for those who call this area home they’re an important lifeline,” she writes.

An open letter to those enjoying cultus lake on sunny days,Cultus is a beautiful summer destination, and a great place for family fun. To this end I ask you to please to consider my family and the hundreds of other families that live on the south west end of cultus lake. There is only one road in or out to the communities on the west end of the lake. The no parking zones on the sides of the road may seem like an easily ignored inconvenience to many of you who cant find space in the lot at your beach of choice. However for those who call this area home they’re an important lifeline. These areas are meant to be kept clear so vehicles can get off the road and allow emergency services (search and rescue, ambulance, police) to the south west side of the lake. When these no parking areas are filled the roads cannot clear and allow emergency vehicles past. It can take upwards of 1.5 hours for emergency services to reach people in need. Now consider if it was your parent having a heart attack or your child had a bad fall? Perhaps your loved one went for a hike or swim and required immediate help from search and rescue? How would you feel knowing the help they need is unlikely to reach them in time? I am pleading all of you who enjoy to spend time at cultus lake to consider this. Especially as our province has been incredibly negligent in handling this safety issue. For well over 20 years these no parking zones have been in place, yet the province has never designated anyone the power to reinforce it. The parks cannot ticket, both highways and RCMP will not attend because it’s in provincial parks and the fraser valley regional district has been trying in vain to get the power to ticket or tow. I beg you to please consider carpooling and finding alternative parking, my family is put in danger when these no parking zones are ignored. And joining me in sending a letter to lawmakers to encourage them to prioritize the safety of the thousands of people who call lindell beach and columbia valley home.Thank you for your consideration Sincerely,Concerned for the safety of her parents, grandparent , brother, other extended family and friends

Posted by Katrina Clow on Sunday, July 26, 2020

She says the pullouts are there so vehicles can pull off of the narrow, winding and often busy road to allow ambulances, fire trucks and police through in an emergency. If the roads and pullouts are blocked, it can take up to an hour-and-a-half to reach the communities on the far side of the lake.

“Now consider if it was your parent having a heart attack or your child had a bad fall? Perhaps your loved one went for a hike or swim and required immediate help from search and rescue? How would you feel knowing the help they need is unlikely to reach them in time?” asks Clow.

Aside from imploring people to do the right thing, Clow is putting the blame on the province for not finding an enforcement solution within the provincial park.

No jurisdiction

The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) says it’s frustrated with the situation as residents often raise the issue with the district, which has no jurisdiction.

“We have suggested that the province or other landholders could build more parking lots. We have suggested the placement of barriers or road delineators to prevent illegal parking in trouble spots. We have suggested closing the road when BC Parks and Cultus Lake Park are full, and establish a shuttle from a nearby parking lot in the City of Chilliwack. We have called tow trucks to come when cars are parked illegally, but they can only manage so much and it takes a while for them to respond,” says Jennifer Kinneman, a district spokesperson.

Kinneman says the RCMP has been designated as the authority in charge of enforcement along Columbia Valley Road, under the Community Charter Act.

“Unfortunately, regional districts are not included under the Community Charter or the Local Government Act as agencies that can obtain this authority. The FVRD has asked the Province for changes to the Act that would permit the FVRD to use its own bylaw enforcement officers to regulate parking on Columbia Valley Highway,” says Kinneman, explaining such a change would impact every district in the province, so it becomes a rather big ask to fix an issue at one lake.

Kinneman says it is going to take a “concerted, collaborative effort,” and additional funding to fix the issue.

Clow is now asking people to write to the province to ask for upgrades or solutions.

“For well over 20 years these no parking zones have been in place, yet the province has never designated anyone the power to reinforce it,” she says.