Editor recycles old opinion piece about new use for Dutch Lake

The property contains a large natural amphitheatre, capable of holding (by your editor's estimate) at least 5,000 people

Editor’s Note: Recently there has been renewed interest in creating a venue for theatre and music presentations in Clearwater. With this in mind, plus plans by District of Clearwater to drill a new well, we dust off an editorial that appeared in our May 24, 2010 issue:

One of the more interesting items to come out of District of Clearwater’s infrastructure committee meeting last Tuesday afternoon was the existence of a paleo-channel that connected Clearwater River with Dutch Lake, apparently during glacial times.

The channel is now filled with rubble and debris, but it formerly came into the lake near the island. Crews discovered it back in the 1960s when B.C. Hydro was investigating putting dams on the Clearwater.

According to one of the engineers at the meeting, it would be a prime candidate for one of the test wells the engineers are recommending the District drill to locate new water sources.

The paleo-channel is located at the edge of a 60-acre lot that takes up the northwest corner of the lake – from Wyndhaven subdivision to Dutch Lake Resort.

We have written about this piece of property before (once about 20 years ago, the second time more recently) recommending that it be turned into a park. Former local resident Frank Ritcey also has written a letter to the editor that recommended the same thing.

Why a park? The first reason is that the property contains a large natural amphitheatre, capable of holding (by your editor’s estimate) at least 5,000 people. With the removal of a few trees and the construction of a small stage, it could almost immediately become a unique venue for performances by local musicians.

Taking out a few more trees and adding a large tarpaulin (a few pieces from the former B.C. Place stadium roof would have been good) would make it even more usable. Looking farther down the road, the entire amphitheatre could be roofed by a giant dome or tent.

The Community Resource Center is looking at whether to locate its proposed arts, crafts and technology center at the former Dutch Lake School or to build a new site elsewhere. It seems to us that having a potentially unique facility such as the natural amphitheatre would make the Dutch Lake option the obvious choice.

Another reason for creating a park would be to preserve the viewscape as seen from Dutch Lake beach and Highway 5. Sooner or later, if some level of government does not acquire the land, someone will build a subdivision or condominium development on it.

A third reason would be to help the construction of the long-proposed trail around Dutch Lake. The property contains a good proportion of the lake’s periphery.

A fourth would be as an outdoor recreation and education center. The property is the terminus of the Clearwater River trail, plus it touches on Dutch Lake for flat-water training and has access to Clearwater River for training in swift-water.

A fifth possible use (although this would need more public consultation) would be as an overflow for Dutch Lake beach. There is sand on the property and possibly a small beach could be constructed that would catch the morning sun and warm up earlier in the day than the present beach.

The existence of the paleo-channel adds one more potential use for the land. If it proves out (and there is no reason to think that it shouldn’t – the connection likely is why the lake rises and falls with the river level) then the property could be a water source for the community.

The water would be largely from the Clearwater River, which comes mostly from pristine wilderness areas (except for the Mahood tributary). It would be a relatively short and direct pump from the well(s) to the water reservoir near Archibald Road (and engineers have recommended construction of a loop around the north end of the lake in any event).


District of Clearwater councillors recently set up a special fund for land acquisition. Which particular pieces of land, if any, they have in mind has (quite correctly) not been made public. We hope, however, that acquiring the property at the northwest corner of Dutch Lake as a legacy for the community is a priority.