According to the Lakes Outdoor Recreation Society (LORS), 18 recreation sites within the Lakes District area currently do not have enough funding for proper annual upgrading or maintenance.
The organization has maintained 28 recreation sites and two provincial parks within the Lakes District since 2002.
Lynn Synotte, LORS president, said that in the past two years both the Burns Lake Community Forest and Chinook Community Forest have been instrumental in the upgrades of 10 sites that fall within their tenured borders.
The recreation sites that fall within the tenured borders of the Burns Lake Community Forest include Division Lake, Maxan Lake, Agate Point, Eagle Creek, Kager Lake and Guyishton Lake. The ones that fall within the Chinook Community Forest include Taltapin Lake, Indian Bay, Ootsa Lake Landing and Co-op Lake.
“The remaining sites are not under a local forest license and as such they do not get the same great funding that the other 10 do,” explained Synotte. “This makes upgrades much harder to come by and that’s why we are so reliant on donations from different organizations to meet the most urgent needs at the ‘orphan’ sites.”
Synotte said LORS has obtained donations from businesses such as Pacific Northern Gas, Tahtsa Group, Lakes District Maintenance and Hampton Affiliates that have allowed them to produce and install picnic tables and outhouses at a reasonable cost.
“We are extremely fortunate to get some donations from community members and businesses, but we are always in need,” she said.
For the past two years, LORS has also received $20,000 from Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. In addition, LORS has signed a one-year agreement with B.C. Parks for 2017. Another opportunity to assist LORS in the upgrade of recreation sites was entering into an agreement with Waterbridge Holdings to maintain their ferry landing sites.
“This will mean a small remuneration to LORS that we will be able to use for upgrades on sites not covered [by funding],” said Synotte.
In addition to conducting regular maintenance, this summer LORS is planning to replace 25 picnic tables with universal access tables and four outhouses with universal access outhouses. These new outhouses with universal access will be installed at Indian Bay, Co-op Lake, Division Lake and Taltapin Lake recreation sites. Each universal access table cost $530 and outhouses with universal access cost $3000.
LORS held their fifteenth annual general meeting last month. During the meeting, Synotte said she was pleased that Augier Lake Recreation Site was the only northern B.C. camping spot included in Backroad Mapbooks’ list of top 10 free camping spots in B.C. on in August 2016.
LORS was formed when, in 2002, the provincial government was decommissioning recreation sites and provincial parks in the Lakes District. Concessions were negotiated and the province agreed that if the community would form a society to take over the maintenance of the sites and parks, the province would not continue with the decommissioning. Currently, LORS has a membership of approximately 40 community members with nine active executive officers.