The Gardom Lake Community Park Society received 100 per cent approval from area residents to continue their efforts to renew a licence to manage the park at a Nov. 22 meeting at Deep Creek Hall.
Fred McAllister, society vice-president, says the meeting was well-attended and that he lost count at 50 people.
While pleased with the turnout, he says park association board members were disappointed that nobody from the regional district or the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) attended the meeting.
Frustrated by a lack of response from the ministry to requests for information about the community park for which they have spent thousands of volunteer hours to operate and improve over the past 25 years, the board held the meeting to get community approval for future efforts.
Attendees were presented with two resolutions:
1. “The membership continues to support the society in obtaining a 10-year renewal of the licence of occupation file 3408757 as its preferred choice for what entity is to operate and maintain Gardom Lake Community Park in the coming years;
2. Should the society receive written notice of cancellation of licence 3408757, and in the opinion of the directors opportunities to effectively appeal such a decision have been exhausted, the membership would be in favour of the CSRD taking over management of the park, provided community consultation is considered.”
“Everyone in the room voted yes,” McAllister says of both resolutions in a vote overseen by retired police officer Mark Dibblee.
When members of the society’s board requested another 10-year licence from the ministry, they were refused, and instead given a two-year licence of occupation.
“And they didn’t get it to us for seven months; the map of the park was wrong,” says Fred McAllister, vice-president of the society. “They had two lots left out of their agreement and they happened to be where the main gate and roads down to the lake are.”
While the ministry made corrections to the licence, McAllister says members of the society were told just to continue operating the park on a month-to-month basis, finally acquiring the limited licence of occupation 15 months into the two-year term.
Also annoying, says McAllister, is the ministry’s dismissal of a comprehensive park management plan the society submitted.
“When we asked for the licence renewal two years ago, we gave them a 20-page document with all the information about what was done in the past, including costs, and about how we wanted to run the park in an ecologically friendly way,” he says. “And they admitted they never even read it. That’s kinda scary eh? They have no plans to approve it, it seems to me.”
He says the society was advised in a recent phone call that the licence would not be renewed beyond June 2019.
Society members were then very surprised to learn through a Nov. 8 story in the Observer that the ministry had not yet made a decision on the park, pending further discussions and a “vision of the land use to occur between the current licence holder, Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the ministry as there are increasing demands for increased public access to the lake.”
The last part of that statement is of concern to residents who believe the message refers to the possible installation of a boat launch at the park, something Gardom Lake residents are adamantly opposed to.
“I and other members of the board have said, if they do that, we’re out of there,” McAllister says, noting the well-used beach is way too small to accommodate a boat launch. “If they want to start a war on this, the stuff will hit the fan more than it did at Musgrave Road.”
McAllister is referring to angry protests that took place several years ago when the regional district announced plans to make improvements to the Musgrave Road hand-launch.
“Our plan is to get CSRD, FLNRORD and us in the same room,” he says, noting that CSRD Manager of Operations Management Darcy Mooney’s attempts to set up such a meeting last year went nowhere.
Following a meeting with McAllister and society president Doug Hearn on Nov. 27, CSRD team leader of Community Services Ryan Nitchie says the regional district is willing to facilitate a meeting between the society and FLNRORD so they can communicate with each other.
“CSRD hasn’t contemplated assuming operation or management of the park in 2019,” Nitchie says of the society’s second resolution. “We’d have to have a plan in place and budget to move forward and ultimately we would have to get board support for the agreement and an appropriate budget.”