A group pushing for more access points along the Fraser River in Chilliwack is calling it a win.
City crews were on Ballam Road near the river Friday starting work on new parking spots to make the area more accessible.
Fraser Valley Salmon Society president Dean Werk had high praise for the collaboration and flexibility being shown by City of Chilliwack officials, resulting in new access points for fishers and other recreational users of the mighty Fraser.
“I know that both myself and Chris (Gadsden) were very excited and felt fulfilled by the City’s willingness to embrace some ideas from FVSS directorship and our members to create what is seemingly a common sense approach to accessibility in the Minto Channel area of Ballam road,” said Werk.
When the work is complete there will be three new parking stalls near McDonald Road and three midway between McDonald Road and McSween Road.
The work began late last week on the north side of Chilliwack and is slated to continue this week.
Crews are removing some of the cement barriers, which went in along one side of Ballam last year to discourage garbage-dumping, and to prevent vehicles from leaving the gravel road and plunging into the river.
The Ballam Road area is a favourite among anglers, bike riders, dog-walkers, sunset-watchers and others.
While the cement barriers were aimed in part at stopping back country trash-dumpers, it didn’t seem to be working to achieve that aim, Werk said, as piles of garbage continued to be deposited illegally near the river.
FVSS directors will be “adopting” these locations where new parking spots will be, similar to the Adopt-A-Road approach, with ongoing cleanups to keep them garbage-free.
“It’s in our wheelhouse to be watching things and monitoring the river this way,” Werk said. “Chilliwack is such an incredibly popular outdoor destination for the whole region.”
The other factor is that Ballam Road is one of the only easy-to-access locations for anglers who do not have a boat to launch. The 2018 sportfishing season is expected to be very busy with millions of sockeye expected to return, as well as a decent pink season.
Also some pedestrian access for people with mobility concerns should be completed by the end of February.