Tuesday September 13, 2011

Local News

Pay Parking Perturbs

Fee remains despite Cultus Lake Park budget surplus, Board Chair Peter defends position

Staff/Voice/Web image


f you thought that Cultus Lake Park Board would lift the parking charges at Main Beach because of a recent announcement that they had a $1-million budget surplus, you would be wrong.


Board Chair Sacha Peter, confirmed pay parking at Main

Beach isn't going away anytime soon despite the budget windfall and this has some people furious saying that pay parking at the popular recreation spot should be eliminated, or at the very least, free parking permits issued to residents.

Earlier this year, the provincial government announced that pat parking would be removed from the parks system so that individuals and families would be encouraged to enjoy the great outdoors. Cultus Lake didn't follow suit because it's not under provincial jurisdiction.

"Cultus Lake Park is not a provincial park. Unlike other standard municipalities (e.g. cities and regional districts), we do not receive any form of direct provincial government funding," said Peter in an email to the Voice.

The system isn't fair if 80,000 Chilliwack residents have to subsidize hundreds of thousands of tourists from other areas say detractors.

It's true that the park has to deal with the costs associated with hundreds of thousands of visitors but most of those visitors come from outside the Chilliwack and residents are stuck having to foot the bill.

"We incur direct costs as a result of having thousands of visitors daily, especially with garbage collection and beach and facility maintenance to name a few. Parking fees are one method of enabling us to spend money that maintains the beauty of the park," wrote Peter.

If you don't want to pay for the great outdoors, Peter says there is limited free parking available, albeit at other places, not Main Beach.

"If you do not wish to pay for parking at Cultus Lake Park, free alternatives include the adjacent provincial park ground, but it is commonly full during the peak season. Other free alternatives also include many hiking spots along Chilliwack River Valley, for example, Lindeman Lake."

Cultus Lake residents can park next to their homes and according to Peter, there is a "system in place to designate guests (parking).

Where the surplus is concerned, Peter said they're sitting tight on the money for now.

"Although the park is in a surplus position, these surpluses will be reserved away for future capital projects, such as improvements to our water system, sewage/septic systems, local roads, main beach, and so forth."

Peter says it's run like strata councils that aren't thrifty.

"If we do not reserve capital, we will be in a very difficult situation when it comes time to upgrading or replacing infrastructure."

For more information about Chilliwack's beautiful Cultus Lake Park visit: www.cultuslake.bc.ca


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