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Council Votes to Close Trailheads

Raging BC Fires Prompt Action


Lions Bay Council has decided to close public access to trails around and above the village. Trails leading to Tunnel Bluffs, the Lions, Mt. Harvey and Unnecessary Mountain all traverse Crown land over which the municipality has no jurisdiction, but the trailheads themselves are within Village boundaries.


This decision today follows the circulation of an online petition earlier this week signed by dozens of village residents requesting council take action. The petition was accompanied by a letter asking Council "to exercise its jurisdiction over municipal land and close the trails and/or access to trails with immediate effect."


Resident Penny Nelson, who initiated the petition, contacted signatories this afternoon to share the news of the decision. "Almost 60 people signed the letter between yesterday afternoon and this morning," Nelson said. She expressed concern over how the village would be evacuated of not only residents but hikers in an emergency, and noted water supplies are at their lowest of the year. "We do not believe there will be sufficient water for our fire crews to hold the fort waiting for outside assistance."


Concerns have also been voiced that a human-caused blaze would not allow residents of Lions Bay the kind of warning time received by other fire-affected municipalities such as Kelowna and Yellowknife, where fires began kilometres away from populated centres.


Compounding this is the fact that, according to the most recent draft community emergency plan, the village evacuation plan remains "under development."


The petition cited concern over public access to lands during the current extreme fire rating, with dry conditions expected to continue. Lions Bay Fire Rescue has attended three fire calls this summer, all caused by humans. Combined with the high numbers of hikers, peaking at over 10,000 individuals in the month of July alone, the petition reflected worries that the risk of wildfire is too high to keep the trailheads open. And Council clearly agreed.


Resident Gail Craig attended today's meeting to express her concerns. After noting that the decision to close the trails themselves is out of village jurisdiction, she asked if Council would be willing to close the trailheads within the village. After discussion, consultant Randy Diehl confirmed Council's ability to close the trailheads on village property.


It's still not clear what methods will be taken to close the trailheads, or to enforce the closures.


Got thoughts to share on this breaking story? The Watershed welcomes your opinion. Comment below, or email us at editor@lionsbaywatershed.ca.





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RE closing the access to the trails, good idea. There should be a notice of closure to access in the North Shore News and Vancouver Sun

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