A dispute between Katzie First Nation and the province means heading into the long weekend that Pitt Addington Widgeon Marsh Area (PAWNA), its boat launch, and canoe rentals will be off limits to the public.
And it might stay that way indefinitely, explained Katzie Chief Grace George.
The lack of an operating agreement with the provincial government has left Katzie Development Corporation (KDC) unable to manage the ministry-owned recreation facility – for liability reasons, George said.
“We understand that this may create challenges for residents and cabin owners on Pitt Lake, but we can no longer assume the risks imposed upon us by the ministry,” she said, anxious to get word of the closure out before people finalize their Victoria Day holiday plans.
Attempts – over several months – to renew the agreement with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development have failed, George said, claiming the major stumbling block is the ministry’s lack of a decision or action regarding “major” repairs to the dock.
Katzie First Nation, through KDC, has managed the site since 2011.
Until a deal is reached, it says it’s unable to continue managing PAWNA, its parking lot, boat launch, and canoe rentals.
That said, the closure of the recreational site is effective immediately, extending into this weekend, and likely dragging on into the upcoming summer season, George predicted.
“Katzie First Nation and KDC regret the requirement to close the site,” said the chief, quick to clarify they are wiping their hands of any legal responsibilities without a contract in place.
As the land owner and manager, the ministry now has full operational responsibility for the site, until the tenure is renewed and KDC can return to work, George said, describing it as “unfortunate” that the ministry put Katzie in this “untenable position. We have no choice but to take this action.”
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