Chilliwack RCMP urge caution as weather warms for long weekend

Despite its access to remote wilderness areas, Chilliwack is not the “boonies” where anything goes, RCMP officials warned as the May long weekend approached.

Despite its access to remote wilderness areas, Chilliwack is not the “boonies” where anything goes, RCMP officials warned as the May long weekend approached.

“It’s not news that you can’t drink alcohol in public,” RCMP Const. Tracy Wolbeck said, and a special police enforcement team along with forest ministry and local citizens-on-patrol groups will be on the look-out for law-breakers or yahoos who think anything goes once they arrive in Chilliwack.

“We’re not out there to be fun-killers,” Wolbeck said. “But when you have this many people, we have to make sure everybody’s safe or everybody suffers.”

“The area is very family-oriented,” she added. “We want to make sure that families feel safe and comfortable being here.”

Thousands of people regularly head for the day-use areas of the Cultus Lake park on the May long weekend, and hundreds stay at the park’s campgrounds, as well as other regulated and unregulated campsites in the Chilliwack River Valley, and around Chilliwack Lake and Harrison Lake.

But no overnight camping or parking is allowed on the Chilliwack Lake Road between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. Violators will be towed at the owner’s expense and face possible fines.

The “zero tolerance” approach on land will be mirrored on the water.

All the laws under the Small Vessel and Regulations Act will be enforced on local lakes and rivers, especially safety regulations like wearing a life jacket while on the water.

“Too many of the tragedies we experienced last year were due to people not wearing life jackets,” Wolbeck said.

“It doesn’t matter how much experience you have with boating, you never know when something could happen and you need to be prepared for the unexpected,” she said.

Impaired ATV drivers is another police concern. ATV drivers are subject to the same rules of the road as any other driver.

“Impaired driving can be a problem in these remote areas, and we are aware of that,” Wolbeck said. “We will be there to ensure the safe operation of these vehicles.”

Last year, between the May long weekend and the BC Day long weekend in July the special enforcement team nabbed 13 impaired drivers, made 278 liquor seizures and issued 36 24-hour roadside suspensions. The team also issued 102 boat safety warnings and made four boat safety charges.

rfreeman@theprogress.com