Columbia Lake Park access decision on hold until studies conclude

Not much progress has taken place in recent months on determining the future of access to Columbia Lake Provincial Park

Not much progress has taken place in recent months on determining the future of access to Columbia Lake Provincial Park, but BC Parks is hoping to settle on a final option later this year.

“That’s our target,” said Ministry of Environment Kootenay and Okanagan regional planning section head Greg Chin on trying to bring the process to a close sometime in 2015.

Chin was in the valley more than a year ago, as part of open house public consultation meetings carried out by BC Parks in Fairmont Hot Springs in late March 2014.

At the time, Chin had outlined three possible scenarios for the park — keeping the status quo; vehicle access to Warspite Creek; and vehicle access to the shoreline of Columbia Lake.

Several attendees of those meeting expressed a strong desire for better access to the shoreline. Chin had said access value was one of the considerations for BC Parks on the site, but that they must be balanced with other values, including environmental stewardship.

“There’s not much to update right now,” Chin told The Valley Echo on Monday, April 13th, adding that BC Parks is waiting for an environmental study and archaeological study to be completed.

The environmental study is already well underway and Chin expects it to wrap up within a week. The archaeological study, which will look at sites of cultural importance to First Nations, needs to wait until later in the spring to start. Once it does get underway, it will take a matter of weeks to conduct it.

“Unless these studies indicate we need to do more studies, then we can figure out where to go from there,” said Chin. “The information from the studies will be publicly available for people to see.”

Current access to the shore at Columbia Lake Provincial Park is a rough gravel road at the south end of Fairmont.

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