Above: The motor boat that allegedly sideswiped a paddler at Cultus Lake’s Main Beach on the morning of July 29, 2020. Now BC Parks and the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe have installed control buoys around the lake to mark speed restricted zones. (Submitted)
BC Parks, Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe hope to avoid serious boating incidents seen in recent years
Chilliwack RCMP are alerting the public of modifications to Cultus Lake this year to improve safety on the water.
BC Parks, in collaboration with Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe, has installed new control buoys around the lake to mark speed restricted zones.
Over the past two summers, RCMP have noted increased vessel traffic on the lake with serious incidents occurring on the water.
In 2020, the RCMP investigated a collision between a ski boat and an Indigenous canoe.
Rick and Peggy Joe said they were sideswiped by a motor boat while paddling at Main Beach in July of that year, and the motor boat operator left the scene.
The collision sparked outrage and as a result, leadership from around the entire lake, including local Indigenous governments and knowledge keepers, Transport Canada Office of Boating Safety, and the RCMP gathered to discuss solutions to improve the safety of all users.
One result of these discussions has been the installation of control buoys around the entire foreshore of the lake in early 2022.
“BC Parks is pleased to have had the opportunity to work with leadership from the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe, the RCMP, Transport Canada and other stakeholders around Cultus Lake, on this important safety initiative. It is our hope that these new measures will help to ensure all lake visitors have a safe and enjoyable visit to Cultus Lake. Thank-you to all who have contributed,” said Parliamentary Secretary Kelly Greene, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
The speed of vessels is regulated to 10 km/h between the control buoys and the lake shore, which provides a safe space for human powered vessels and will prevent collisions which can cause serious injuries.
BC Parks and Cultus Lake Park are updating signage at the boat launches to increase public awareness of the safety regulations as well as the importance of the lake to Indigenous peoples. The Stó:lō people have been paddling Swilcha’ (Cultus Lake) since time immemorial and continue to canoe on it today.
“Swilcha’ has significant importance to the Ts’elxwéyeqw and Stó:lō people as our history is rooted in cultural sharing and teachings,” said Chief David Jimmie, president of Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe. “Stories have been passed on for generations about the creation of the lake and its inhabitants. Today, the canoe families share teachings of commitment, discipline, responsibility, teamwork, family and healthy living as they train, practise and race on the water. Safety is of the utmost importance to us all, regardless of where we come from, so the fact that the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe, BC Parks, Cultus Lake Parks Board, RCMP and Transport Canada came together was amazing. At no time should anyone feel unsafe on the lake as we have witnessed in the past,”
“Federal law restricts speed within 30 metres of the shore even without any buoys present but unfortunately many operators forget this,” said Const. Jaden Courtney, Urban Indigenous Liaison Officer for the Chilliwack RCMP. “We believe the new buoys will assist all users and increase safety on the lake for everyone.”
The RCMP urges the public to respect all buoys, markers and signs. Using the buoys as mooring causes damage and violators can be fined. To report non-emergencies, call 604-792-4611. To report marine emergencies including impaired and dangerous boating call 911.