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Whonnock Lake gets long-delayed reno

Whonnock Lake Park draws people from within and outside Maple Ridge. - The News/files
Whonnock Lake Park draws people from within and outside Maple Ridge.
— image credit: The News/files

Maple Ridge council got bogged down in the details of the long-planned Whonnock Lake Park reno plans Monday, worrying over the $1.6-million cost.

But staff have the OK to start rolling out the long-awaited upgrade plan for the heavily used park on 112th Avenue in east Maple Ridge.

Although the plan was written in 2000, implementation was delayed in the hope that matching grants from senior governments could be used to help the Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club build a new boat house and community centre.

Those haven’t materialized so parks and leisure services is starting the park upgrade this summer, part of a multi-year process.

“There’s really a desire to improve the circulation of vehicles and pedestrians through that area,” Bruce McLeod, manager of parks and planning, said later.

A first step will be to build a bypass road that will divert motorists who are using the park from the Whonnock Lake Centre parking lot to the parking area used for picnickers and boaters. A boat launch area and pier is also part of the first phase.

The second phase will see expansion of the Whonnock Lake Centre parking lot itself, to make it easier for people to get to and from the community centre.

The third phase involves building trails through the park to allow people to walk without having to cross the parking lots or roads. Pedestrian lighting will make it easier to get around the dark park and the rainforest.

A new gravel parking lot was the fourth phase of the reno plan to accommodate the new boathouse planned by Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club. The boathouse project however has been reduced in scale.

Part of that phase included revegetating camping areas to restore some seclusion for the sites.

The last phase, phase five, involves building a caretaker residence with public washrooms and a concession area. That’s the priciest part of the reno plan at $624,220. Currently, the park’s caretakers live in a mobile home and retire soon.

Proposed as part of the upgrades are three electric barbecues or hotplates to serve as communal stoves for cooking lunch or dinner.

That would spare people having to lug their own barbecues to the beach and having to dispose of hot barbecue coals.

They’re used in Richmond and Australia, McLeod added later.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity where you have a concern for forest fires,” he explained. They’re also good community gathering places.

Coun. Bob Masse wondered if the district was overloading use of the park and the shallow lake and asked about coliform levels in the water. The water is regularly tested but warning signs were only posted in one instance last year, said parks director David Boag.

Whonnock Lake Park has the potential to become a regional attraction. “We should capitalize on that, why not?” added Coun. Al Hogarth.

The District of Maple Ridge has bought all but one property around the lake so a trail can circumnavigate the water.

 

 

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