By Keith McNeill
Should the 23 ha (57 acre) property in the northwest corner of Dutch Lake be made into a park?
About 30 people showed up for a public meeting held Sunday afternoon, June 17, in Clearwater Legion Hall to discuss the pros and cons, ways and means of doing that.
The property has been for sale off and on over the past few years. Its present asking price is $750,000.
During its June 5 meeting, Clearwater town council approved a fuel management plan for the property which would involve clear-cutting most of its area.
Gord Radcliff, a member of an ad hoc committee calling itself the Dutch Lake advocy group, led off the meeting.
He described how he heard about the proposed logging and followed up by attending the June 5 town council meeting and then co-writing a letter to the editor that appeared in the June 14 issue of the Times.
“A standard question in resource management is whether it contributes to community resilience,” he said. “We need to respect the land for what it is.”
Although he was unhappy about some details, it was not the logging or the fuel abatement he had problems with, he said, but the lost opportunities for recreation and conservation.
He said he was in conversation with members of Simpcw First Nation on possible pre-contact use of the site by Indigenous people.
Speaking from the audience, Murray Stockton said he has lived in this area since 1972. Subdividing the property into 53 lots, as allowed for in its land use contract, would be ludicrous, he said.
Darryl Cowrie, an area resident since 1961, said his first home in Clearwater was in Dutch Lake Resort and knew the property well.
“Dutch Lake is a jewel. The better it looks the more we have to offer,” Cowie said.
Her work with the forests ministry has shown her that the fire danger level is getting more extreme, said Heather MacLennan.
Douglas fir is not fire resistant enough to deal with climate change, she felt.
“In my opinion, it does need to be a park,” said Shelley Sim a member of Clearwater town council.
Voting for the fuel management plan was not an easy decision, she said, but if it had been rejected and then there was a fire, District of Clearwater could be held liable. The vote had been unanimous, she said.
Councillor Ken Kjenstad explained that town council always discusses certain private property matters in camera (with the public excluded). This is not done to keep things secret but to protect the municipality, he said.
Keith McNeill closed the meeting by saying the advocacy group was working on three main initiatives: fundraising, seeking Class C provincial park status, and seeking municipal park status.
All three rely on demonstrating adequate public support for the park proposal, he said.
He had a petition ready for people to sign but at the suggestion of councillor Shelley Sim, agreed to hold it back until it could be re-worded.