A change in ownership of a piece of private property along the access road to the Richmond Lake recreation site has caused a portion of the access road leading into the site to be restricted to the public.
The access road to the Richmond Lake recreation site, which is located roughly 30 km East of Burns Lake and approximately 4 km off of Hwy. 16, is located along two pieces of private property, a CN Rail right-of-way line and an additional piece of private land.
The additional piece of private land has changed ownership recently and now users of the recreation site will no longer be allowed to use the existing access road to get into the Richmond Lake recreation site.
The issue of the access road into the recreation site being located on and near private property has been a long standing issue for Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.
The access road has long been in rough shape.
On the website for Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. it is recommended that users of the Richmond Lake site either hike or quad the final section of the access road, rather than drive in.
For the past 20 plus years there have been attempts to upgrade the access road to make it so users could drive their vehicles in, but a petition in the 1990s, signed by over 30 residence around the area was submitted opposing the upgrade of the road.
“The property owner is well within his rights to restrict access to the access road,” Ben Heemskerk, District Officer for the Nadina-Skeena Recreation District of Recreation Sites and Trails B.C., “We will have to work on finding a solution the best fits the needs of the public.”
Heemskerk says that the first step for his office in assessing the best solution is to meet with the community of Burns Lake and the area, the people who use the recreation site the most and get feedback from them.
That is something that will be done this week.
“I would have to do some surveying and statusing of the land to see if there is Crown land we can put additional access through, or if there is something we could do with the new private land owner for longer term access, as well,” Heemskerk said.
The Richmond Lake recreation site, Heemskerk says is a great site for fishing, and includes a boat launch.
The two solutions that are most likely to occur are either working with the private land owner on an agreement where the current access road can be upgraded and used, or building a detour around the private land using Crown land.
“It would be nice to have some sort of access there, whether it’s hike, quad or drive in, and we have to figure out what the best situation there is whether it’s the current location of the road or a new location,” Heemskerk said, “We have to explore what those options are, but we’re definitely looking for a solution that works for the community and local residents and maintains the character of the recreation site as it’s been for the past 20 years.”
The solution will also be budget dependent, both for Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. and for the Lakes Outdoor Recreation Society, which is a partner and takes care of the day to day maintenance of a number of recreation sites in the region, including the Richmond Lake site.
“If it’s going to be expensive to build an alternative access route then we’ll have to consider a way to approach it,” Heemskerk said, “We have to work with the outdoor recreation society, too. They do all the on the day to day maintenance of the recreation sites in the Burns Lake area and they’re a fantastic partner and we’re happy to work with them on this stuff.”
The restricted access to the recreation site was first brought to the attention of the outdoor society more than a week ago by users of the site who were told by the owner that they wouldn’t be allowed through in the future.