Heavy summertime traffic into Cultus Lake and the Columbia Valley is prompting officials to take some aggressive steps.
Prior to the busy long weekend, electronic signs were installed on roads leading to Cultus Lake, warning motorist of traffic congestion, and the fact vehicles are not permitted to park on Columbia Valley Road.
It’s just the latest step in an effort to strike balance between the needs of residents, the need for safety and accommodation of visitors.
Officials with the Fraser Valley Regional District have been collaborating with local and provincial counterparts to address the issue.
“We have been working with MOTI (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) and Cultus Lake Park Board to try to alleviate traffic and parking concerns at Cultus,” said Jennifer Kinneman, spokesperson for FVRD.
They are brainstorming “short, medium and long-term solutions,” she added.
The electronic signs were posted near the Highway 1 off ramp at the Vedder Road overpass, at Vedder Road and Keith Wilson, and at Parmenter Road just before Cultus Lake.
MOTI officials also took to Twitter to warn people of parking at Cultus.
“Cultus Lake goers, please note there is NO PARKING on Columbia Valley Road due to safety concerns, one being blocking emergency vehicles access (lots of signs make it clear),” read the tweet from BC Transportation.
Cultus Lake goers, please note there is NO PARKING on Columbia Valley Road due to safety concerns, one being blocking emergency vehicles access (lots of signs make it clear). #Chilliwack #FraserValley pic.twitter.com/wf0vREKP70
— BC Transportation (@TranBC) August 5, 2018
The warnings are just the latest step. In June the Cultus Lake Park Board said vehicles parked illegally would be ticketed and possibly immobilized.
The board also imposed parking restrictions on the business shopping plaza to deter all-day parking. Motorists who don’t follow the rules, the park board said, “may have their vehicle ticketed, immobilized and/or towed.”
The signs read, “If you leave this facility without your vehicle it will be tagged and/or towed.”
And the issue is not limited to Cultus Lake Park.
On the B.C. Day long weekend, frustration took a nasty turn, according to a former chief of Soowahlie First Nation, Grand Chief Doug Kelly.
A security gate on a road through Soowahlie land that’s popular with people trying to avoid Cultus Lake traffic was locked without band authorization.
“Yesterday afternoon, upon my return home,” said Chief Kelly, “Sherry and I encountered heavy traffic to Cultus Lake. We crossed the Vedder Bridge and turned left to take the backroad home.
“When we arrived at the security gate, installed by the Soowahlie Council, we learned that someone chained and padlocked our gate. “
He said a Soowahlie elder, residents, and many non-members were lined up at the gate.
“When we discovered the issue, the Elder called the Soowahlie maintenance man and he had bolt cutters. He arrived just as we were working to break the padlock with a tire iron,” Kelly said.