As I have lived on Charlie Lake Crescent since 1982, I have used the Mile 54 boat launch, along with so many other recreationally-minded people from near and far, during the summer and especially in the winter for various outdoor activities. Two parking lots, a boat launch, an upper trail: just perfect, what more can anyone ask for?
To my surprise, I found two gates blocking access to the parking lots and boat launch. Now, we actually have three gates (one more on the upper parking lot) and two massive concrete barriers at the boat launch. As the boat launch is in bad shape, and certainly causes damage to boat trailers, it is very well jusitified to close it during boating season. But this certainly does not apply when the lake is frozen.
So, what's the reasoning for this mess? According to an article in the Alaska Highway News ('No repairs planned for Mile 54 boat launch'), it's all about frozen lake partiers, who believe it's OK to have fun by burning skids, couches, chairs, and whatever else makes their night. True, this activity and its polluting fallouts are deeply disturbing to sincere outdoor-minded people, including myself and my family. But, we must question: is this radical decision to block access to the lake justified by the parks branch in Victoria?
Disturbingly, Mr. Brad Sperling from the regional district gave them his support. But worse yet, the decisions were made without any public consultation.
Over the last few years, I have found these burning sites at various locations on the lake. Last year, several at a big rock face, far away from the Mile 54 boat launch. At what point these people enter the lake is anyone's guess — it could very well be from the main boat launch at Charlie Lake. The same applies for burning sites close to the Mile 54 launch. We just don't know. But what I do know is this: 99% of honest, outdoor-minded people are getting punished now because of a handful of law breakers. It's time to find ways to deal with this situation in a legal manner.
In my opinion, this sad situation was completely mishandled due to Mr. Sperling's negative input in regards to the burning. It gave the parks branch a welcome reason to install the gates at Mile 54. We can still go for walks, ice fishing, or cross-country skiing, but we must now park on a snow-covered Charlie Lake Crescent roadside. I can certainly see safety concerns getting in and out of vehicles as it can be a busy road. A safe parking lot is there, but is blocked off. How insane is that?
It's nothing new. These people down in the big city don't give a damn about us in the north. Some of them have a hard time pinpointing where Fort St. John even is, despite the fact the riches of this part of the province provide a huge economic benefit for all British Columbians.
But when it comes to repair a lousy boat launch, for example, we don't count. Make it easy: Block everything off and the problems are solved.
And then we have a regional representative for Charlie Lake who misrepresents us, at least in this case.
By the way, Mr. Sperling's job is up for grabs. Maybe it's time to step aside, Mr. Sperling.
— Axel Zarbock, Charlie Lake