Although we would be hard pressed to find a British Columbian who has not been affected by the wildfires and smoke in our province, visitors to Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park continue to smoke cigarettes in the park. We live near the entrance to the parking lot at the yellow gate and regularly swim at Juniper Bay.
Despite smoking bans and signage, we are confident to say that every time we go down to the beach, we explain to someone that there is an extreme fire hazard in B.C. and ask them to please put out their cigarettes. They thank us and usually state that they didn’t know. Recently, when we walked back up the path after asking four young adults in a group of 20 to please stop smoking, we decided to write this letter to ask for public support.
Before giving our suggestions and asking for readers’ suggestions, we feel that we must provide more information. When we smelled smoke, one of us spoke to a group, who said they did not know who was smoking. Ten minutes later when four people in the same group lit up, we went over again to ask them to please not smoke.
They thanked us and said that they did not know that there was an extreme fire hazard and that smoking was prohibited.
This and other recent experiences tell us that our current methods of stopping smoking are not working. We need to do something before our gorgeous lake, which National Geographic names as one of 10 most beautiful lakes in the world, is destroyed by human error.
Most evenings, the cars rush down Kidston Road to the park at dusk. The park gate is supposed to be closed at dusk, but that does not stop people from entering.
Some leave their cars and trucks parked on the road and walk into the park. On July 28, we observed two vehicles arriving at 10:30 p.m. After parking one of the vehicles, three men and one woman loaded all of their gear into one vehicle, moved the park gate, which was closed but had not been locked properly, and drove into the park. Another vehicle with out of province license plates was parked outside of the gate all night and left in the morning. Clearly some people are entering the park illegally.
To prevent a catastrophic wildfire, we would like to offer the following preventative measures.
1. To improve security in the park, the park should be open when park employees can be in attendance to enforce park rules. We believe that currently the park staff is in attendance during the weekdays and part-time on the weekend to attend to washrooms and gather the garbage.
During fire season, Juniper and Jade beaches need full-time staffing for every day of the week during all hours that the park is open. This would not only cut down on smoking, but would also be a deterrent to people who illegally drink alcoholic beverages in public.
2. Fines must be enforced for smoking in the park.
3. The park gate must be closed and locked properly at dusk. Recently, as I walked out at dusk, four vehicles roared down the park road. If the gates were locked properly, people would get the message that the park is closed for the day.
4. During fire season, a security company must be hired to deter illegal entry during the hours when the park is closed.
5. A security camera should be mounted on the street light at the entrance to the park.
6. During fire season, Friends of Kalamalka Lake Park could establish and advertise a neighbourhood watch so concerned citizens can be trained and volunteer.
7. More no smoking signs and larger signs need to be posted in the parking lots and pathways.
8. Park users should report violations to the park employees, security company, and the RCMP.
9. Park users could write letters of support to this newspaper, B.C. Parks, the District of Coldstream and the City of Vernon.
We will submit our letters. Please submit yours.
Colleen Larson and Harry James