Dispute on beach access has community members questioning rationale

·3 min read

A dispute over closing road access to a popular local beach has not been resolved and continues to pit community members against each other and the nearby power company.

Although the North Beach property in Glade is owned by Columbia Power and Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) it has been used by residents of the community — located 23 kilometres west of Nelson — for some time, dating back over 100 years to the first Doukhobor settlers in the area.

However, the discovery of painted turtles in the area caused the CBT to impose limits on how the beach was accessed, forcing people who wished to enjoy the beach to walk 80 metres, making it harder for people to carry in and launch non-motorized watercraft from the beach area.

CBT installed concrete barriers on March 31, but still claimed to “provide safe, and culturally and environmentally respectful, public access to this property.”

One month later representatives from Columbia Power and CBT came to the Glade Community Hall on April 21 to gather some information on how the residents had been affected by the new restrictions. The concrete barricades were placed on the Glade North Beach property to restrict motor vehicle access and to limit escalating damage to the property, as also raised by some members of the community, noted CBT communications director Delphi Hoodicoff on the Glade Facebook site prior to the April 21 meeting.

“On behalf of both organizations (owners of the property), I would like to sincerely apologize that our outreach about the change in access did not include the entire community,” she wrote.

She had asked for people’s patience as they made arrangements to have more dialogue in the coming weeks.

When contacted about the issue and what the next step was, Hoodicoff explained that CBT was “having discussions with residents to share information, hear perspectives and consider options for the future.

“At this point we are not making further public statements out of respect for this dialogue,” she wrote.

But the dialogue online has varied widely.

“Painted turtles or no painted turtles this has to be verified by an independent body as to its veracity or not, once and for all. If there are painted turtles at the beach then the sand area needs to be blocked off from all vehicles,” noted one resident.

But the road down to the beach had to remain open to first responders in case of a medical emergency such as drowning, heart attack or severe cut by rock or prop, the resident added.

Only a small percentage of the population is complaining about blocking the road, noted another resident.

“Eighty per cent of the population is for it. Less vehicle traffic preserves threatened wildlife and keeps the conservation site pristine for future generations. You can walk in ... a mere 80 metres to the beach.”

One resident who was a firefighter lobbied for the return of access.

“I have attended more serious calls then I can count; let's work on a different approach and focus on how to take care of this beautiful place and not block it. (It) will cause a lot more damage and disrespect and delays in care for property and (our) loved ones.”

Another writer agreed.

“If emergency vehicles and first responders do not have access, then there is a greater risk to people's lives,” they wrote. “It is unsafe to block roadways, especially ones that lead to places where people will continue to go.”

Another person pointed to the nature preserve (regional park) that had been set up in Winlaw as an example of what could be done in Glade: driving to a point and then having an accessible walking trail to the water.

You can check out the Glade Facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/gladebc/

Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily

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