The Mile 54 boat launch at Charlie Lake has been closed, a move that has left boaters surprised and prompted a petition demanding it be reopened.
The boat launch was closed and barricaded Sept. 27 for reasons that are unclear, and whether it will reopen remains unknown.
In August, the Peace River Regional District requested BC Parks install a gate at the launch so partiers could be shut out during the winter.
"Through community conversations it has come to the attention of the Peace River Regional District (PRRD) Board that the Charlie Lake boat launch at Mile 54 is not gated and remains open through the winter," Kelsey Bates wrote in an Aug. 3 letter on behalf of board directors.
"The campground is locked up but the boat launch is still accessible to the public, who have been using the area for parties."
In its response, BC Parks acknowledged it's had ongoing problems at the park during the winter and was working to close access to both the boat launch and its parking lots.
"At this time, staff are in the process of obtaining quotes for the installation of two gates to close off the access to the boat launch parking lots and road," Lisa Hardy, the section head for BC Parks in the Peace, wrote in a response to the PRRD the same day.
"We will also be putting a barricade at the boat launch to ensure no vehicles drive into the area from the lake."
That seems to contradict what boaters say they are being told. They've started a petition at the Backcountry outdoors store in Fort St. John to have the boat launch reopened.
"This is a year round recreational area and people use this access to get out on the ice in winter," the petition reads.
"BC Parks reasoning is that they are getting too many complaints that the boat launch is in disrepair and have no funding for repairs, so this is their quick fix."
Signage installed at the boat launch indicates it has become a car top boat launch only and that that boats on trailers won't be allowed.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, which is responsible for BC Parks, has yet to return a request for comment.
Brad Sperling, the electoral area director responsible for Charlie Lake, could not be immediately reached for comment.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at firstname.lastname@example.org.