Williams Lake Field Naturalist president Fred McMechan is relieved council has voted unanimously in favour of keeping the Scout Island gate locked at night.
Originally Coun. Ivan Bonnell in a report to council suggested the gate be unlocked at night, but after the field naturalists learned about the suggestion when the city council agenda was posted on the city’s website Friday they called an emergency meeting with Bonnell.
“We met at the nature centre on Sunday afternoon and outlined our reasoning,” McMechan said.
The gate has been there since the 1970s to protect the area from vandalism, drug dealing in the darkness and partying, he said.
It is also locked because wildlife that feeds after dark and into the early hours of the morning need protection.
McMechan pointed to the fact that many provincial parks and recreation sites lock gates at night as well.
“I told Ivan if the gate was unlocked the city would have to pay for providing security or extra patrolling there,” he said.
At the council meeting Tuesday, Bonnell said he has been trying to find ways to mitigate disruption for the residents who live at the Dutch Point Road boat launch.
Bonnell said he’d had comments from people complaining about the limited hours the Scout Island boat launch is available.
As a result, his motion also directed CAO Darrell Garceau to meet with the field naturalists to discuss extending the hours when the gate is unlocked past the 8 a.m. to dusk which is presently in place.
“There’s no reason to be on the lake at night in my estimation, but for those who want to be on the lake in the early hours of the morning when the sun is up there’s an opportunity to give greater access,” Bonnell said. “Obviously that will have to be discussed with the field naturalists to see if that’s do-able.”
Coun. Sue Zacharias said council has definitely heard from the public that there needs to be more access to the lake.
“I would like to see the boat launch at Scout Island used more,” Zacharias said.
Coun. Laurie Walters said she didn’t support having the gate open earlier than 8 a.m. or late at night because of noise considerations.
“I would caution having that type of activity any earlier than 8 a.m. and absolutely think there’s no problem now with it closing when it does,” Walters said. “This is something that works for safety reasons.”
Mayor Walt Cobb said the noise bylaw goes covers before 7 a.m. and after 11 p.m. while Coun. Craig Smith anyone that fishes knows they aren’t going to have a 200 horsepower motor on the back of their fishing boat.
“I wouldn’t take that as a consideration,” he said.
Bonnell said activities on the lake are not the jurisdiction by the city, just access to the lake.