Currently cabin owners who live on Pitt Lake are the only people allowed access to the docks in Grant Narrows Provincial Park.
The gate leading to the park’s day area and boat launch has been locked since last Friday, May 8, when the Katzie Development Limited Partnership left the site because of liability issues and the absence of an operating agreement with the province.
But, for anyone living on the lake the province has notified the KDLP that they have provided a lock box with a code that only those cabin owners can use, said Stacey Goulding, director of lands, resources and economic development with the Katzie First Nation.
Anyone else wanting to access the lake can only launch their boats at Pitt Meadows Marina on the north end of Reichenbach Road in Pitt Meadows.
Dora Nisipeanu, manager of the Marina, couldn’t believe the number of people who launched their boats from the dock where the Pitt River meets the Alouette River last Saturday.
It was the busiest day she had seen since she started working at the marina nine years ago.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic Nisipeanu has been fielding at least 50 calls a day asking her if the marina is open.
But, on Saturday, Nisipeanu said, more than 150 boats were launched at the dock there. On an average busy day, she would normally see about 100 boats launched.
To get up to Pitt Lake from her marina, Nisipeanu estimates the ride will take an average of 45 minutes.
“From now on I have to expect more customers,” said Nisipeanu.
Debbie Birnie, manager of the Pitt River Boat Club in Coquitlam, has also had an influx of calls about accessing the lake.
Last Saturday she received 18 phone calls asking to launch from her club’s dock but all were denied because her club is for members only.
Pitt Meadows Marina, she said, is the only marina, right now, servicing the lake.
“They closed early last weekend because their parking lot was filled up. So, people weren’t able to launch anywhere,” said Birnie.
Goulding, however, wants the public to understand the risks associated with using the docks at Grant Narrows Park.
She said that they are “unstable” and “in a state of disrepair”.
“Staff, in the last few years, have posted signs that the public cannot be utilizing the docks because they are not safe and the public are using them anyway,” she said, adding that that is another reason why the KDLP can’t be up there anymore, “it’s a huge liability risk for the business operating on that site”.
The province updated the KDLP in November that in order for them to get a tenure back, tenures with the City of Pitt Meadows and the Vancouver Port Authority need to be renewed, in order for the province to provide them with a sub-tenure, which, Goulding said, is how it worked in the past.
“But nothing’s happened,” she said.
And, she said, that without an operating agreement with the province, they are unable to obtain even a quote on how much it would cost to have the docks repaired.
“The other thing too is our insurance policy, we’ve been informed that we are likely in breach of our policy if we continue to manage absent of a tenure,” noted Goulding.
Goulding hopes that the park is not closed for a long period of time, but, she said, the KDLP can’t assume the risk any longer.
David Haslam, spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said that they are aware of the situation and are working on a solution with the Katzie First Nation.
“In the meantime, we will work with property owners as well to help them access their property,” said Haslam.