Ken Stobbs' family has owned a cottage on the Chilliwack River for more than 40 years. He now spends less time there due to constant noise from ATVs on the other side of the river. Below

Paradise lost: Homeowners decry ATV noise

Residents moving to the Chilliwack River Valley are increasingly having their peaceful retreats disrupted by nearby all-terrain vehicles.

The reputed tranquility of the Chilliwack River Valley is attracting more and more permanent residents into new subdivisions off of Chilliwack Lake Road. But those living closest to the river are having their peaceful retreats disturbed by the sound of all-terrain vehicles.

“This was a very, very, very quiet area. It just seems to have been invaded,” said Ken Stobbs.

His family has owned a cottage on Bell Acres Road for four decades, where Stobbs, now a Vancouver resident, has spent most summer weekends. The family bought the property when it was surrounded by wilderness and farmland. Now it’s in a subdivision with approximately 100 other properties.

The lots lie alongside the Chilliwack River. Directly on the other side of the 50-metre wide divide is Crown land with a network of designated ATV trails.

Residents say the sounds of all-terrain vehicles travels straight across the water.

“It just rockets right across, just like they’re going past our bedroom water,” said Stobbs. “We have stopped going (to the cottage) basically because of this. It’s a really horrific situation.”

On the morning of Saturday Aug. 3, a long weekend, the muffled sounds of quads and dirtbikes were a common background noise. A handful of gutturally loud vehicles went by within the hour. According to several residents, it gets much worse, with the loudest going past as often as every few minutes.

For those riding on the trails on the other side, it is easy to forget that there are several hundred residents a river width away, because the forest service road and trails are almost completely surrounded by woods. There are only a few places where a gap in the trees opens up to reveal the houses on the other side.

Surrey resident and ATV rider Matt Paradis, for example, had no idea that there were permanent residents alongside the river. It was his first time to the area on Saturday.

“It’s hard to find a place where you can go and do this kind of stuff. They’ve cut it out of a lot of parts,” said Paradis.

ATV riders in the Chilliwack River ValleyOne third of the 250 campers at the designated campgrounds around Tamihi Bridge last weekend had ATVs, according to the recreation site supervisor.

Another rider, a Chilliwack resident named Clayton, has been dirtbiking on the trails every week this summer. He knows about the houses on the other side and sympathizes with the noise complaints, but feels he has the right to ride the trails.

“It’s one of the only places to go in Chilliwack, and this was here before the houses were here,” he said. “I understand about the noise. (If I lived here) I would probably find it annoying too.”

He said his grandfather used to do rally races in the area.

The Chilliwack River Valley still retains the flavour of an authentic wild, drawing ATVers and residents alike. But Stobbs warns that this gives a false impression.

“That Valley has an appearance of being a great wilderness area that’s very close to a lot of places. But it’s pretty populated,” said Stobbs.

The Fraser Valley Regional District is “highly aware” of the noise issue, and has had a noise and disturbance bylaw in place since 1988 for the Chilliwack River Valley. However, FVRD cannot enforce the bylaw on the Crown land that ATV riders use.

“In very practical terms, in this kind of a situation, it would be very difficult for us to actually enforce when you’ve got the number of people on ATVs doing this,” said FVRD’s general manager of electoral area services Suzanne Gresham. “However we are going to be looking for a coordinated approach with the provincial government…We’re looking into what the enforcement strategy could look like.”

She added that the FVRD was recently made aware of the issue, and is now trying to deal with it.

But residents maintain that they have been complaining to FVRD and the police for years. Stobbs and neighbours have noticed a marked increase in the noise level this summer.

“It’s the worst I’ve ever experienced. By far. It’s just become such a popular place,” said Stobbs.

When he’s at the property with family or friends, everyone eats inside trying to get away from the noise. At times it’s loud enough that guests have to yell to hear each other.

Around the ATV trails, the police try to chase down the loudest quads and dirtbikes where riders have made illegal modifications to the manufacturer’s muffler, according to the recreation site supervisor. But it is difficult to identify the riders after they’ve descended because of the full face helmets.

Camping has been banned between Vedder Road and the Tamihi Bridge since 2007, except in designated provincial campgrounds. The no camping regulation was the first major step in cutting out much of the noisy partying, illegal dumping, and environmental destruction that had been a mainstay of the region for 30 years.

akonevski@theprogress.com
twitter.com/alinakonevski

Just Posted

VIDEO: Chilliwack dairy farmer says Trump doesn’t understand the industry

‘They need supply management just as bad as we need to keep it’: sixth generation farmer Devan Toop

Around the BCHL: Merritt’s Matthew Kopperud nets Sun Devil scholarship

Around the BCHL is a look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

Canadian Senior Championships coming to Chilliwack Curling and Community Centre

The eight sheet rink will open this fall and host the 2019 Everest Championships in March of 2019.

Rolfe House of Chilliwack to get heritage designation

Plaque presented to homeowners as heritage value recognized

Nominations open for UFV Betty Urquhart Community Service award

Award recognizes those who make community a better place to live

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Premier John Horgan ponders debate on voting system changes

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson wants one-on-one, no Green

Saganash drops F-bomb in Commons over federal approach to Trans Mountain

NDP’s reconciliation critic accused federal government of ‘wilfully’ violating constitutional duties

VIDEO: Death threat, racist comments spewed over empty seat on B.C. bus

Transit Police are investigating the incident, shared online by fellow passengers on Vancouver bus

Man faces 8 charges after Vancouver carjacking, pepper-spray attacks

Jesse William Swain has been charged with assault with a weapon, robbery and dangerous driving

Sister of plane crash victim that went missing in B.C. starting support network

Tammy Neron wants to help families who are searching for missing people

‘Hello, 911? There’s a horse in my living room’

Sproat Lake firefighters called to ‘rescue’ quarter-horse from Alberni Valley house

Assault charge withdrawn vs. ex-Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna

Former Toronto player agrees to peace bond

UPDATED: Bill Cosby gets 3-10 years in prison for sexual assault

Judge also declared the disgraced comedian a ‘sexually violent predator’

Most Read