VERNON - A Ministry of Transportation open house about removing land from Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park drew supporters and opposers, though no one seemed to be changing their mind on the project.
The open house was designed to provide more information about the Ministry’s proposal to exclude a 30-meter right-of-way from the park to allow for improvements of Cosens Bay Road.
Kirk Hughes is just one of the popular park’s many users opposed to the project, and he says nothing at the Ministry’s open house changed his position.
“In fact, it’s strengthened my resolve that we need people to bring forth feedback so B.C. Parks can understand this is not something they should approve,” Hughes says.
B.C. Parks currently administers the road, while the Ministry of Transportation conducts its maintenance and operation. If the right-of-way is removed from the park, the Ministry plans to improve sight lines, improve and add ditches, replace old culverts and install new ones, widen areas where it’s unsafe for two vehicles to pass, and add additional signage.
Approximately 68 residents live on Cosens Bay Road and would benefit from the improvements.
“It’s for the entitled few,” Hughes says. “It just doesn’t make sense, parkland is precious. I’ve been going to that park for over 30 years and it’s a gem. To remove from that makes no sense whatsoever.”
Rob Johnston, spokesperson for the Cosens Bay Property Owners Society, says residents are supportive of the project.
“As land owners we feel we’re entitled to a safe, maintained road to our property,” Johnston says.
He says blind corners, poor sight lines and the narrowness of the road makes the route dangerous for all users, not just residents.
“Thousands of park users use that road,” he says. “You’re coming around corners, people are hiking, biking, there are horseback riders. We don’t want to see a serious thing happen out there.”
But Val Buchanan, president of the Friends of Kal Park, says serious things will happen if the plan goes ahead. The group says endangered species, like the Pacific Rattlesnake will be put at risk with a busier road, along with park users.
Some 1,400 people have already signed a petition to stop the proposal, Buchanan says. The Friends of Kal Park will be organizing their own public forum to balance out the open house in the coming weeks.
“I get the feeling the majority of the people here are already in favour of saving Kal Lake Park,” Buchanan says.
The Ministry plans to submit the final stage of its proposal to B.C. Parks in the summer of 2015.
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