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The Peace River Regional District is abandoning the idea of creating a new regional park at Inga Lake, instead turning its attention to other potential sites in the region.

Directors made the decision at their March 31 board meeting, acknowledging Inga Lake is already maintained by Recreation Sites and Trails BC as a year-round park after a meeting with RSTBC’s district recreation officer.

“RSTBC stated that a significant amount of work had recently been completed, including improvements to the accessibility on site and expansion of a number of campsites,” reads a March 15th report from the PRRD’s regional parks committee.

PRRD directors had in January authorized staff to investigate developing a park at Inga Lake, 70 kilometres north of Fort St. John, after giving up a provincial licence for Minaker River Regional Park at Mile 200 of the Alaska Highway due to rising maintenance costs and its remote location.

At the March 31st meeting, directors passed a new recommendation to continue looking for another potential site despite making an error recording the vote, with Chair Brad Sperling noting it as 6-6 and a failed motion, when it should have been 7-4. The voting error will be addressed at the next board meeting, says PRRD’s Corporate Officer Tyra Henderson.

The PRRD’s regional parks master plan sets out acquisition criteria for potential new parks based on geographic coverage, heritage and environmental representation, accessibility, and other considerations. Last week, PRRD staff said any future park site considerations will require consultation with local First Nations.

“We will have to at some point because if there is land that is found that’s Crown land, we’ll have to have consultation with First Nations,” said Trish Morgan, general manager of community services.

During the meeting, Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman questioned whether the region needs another park, and voted against investigating new options.

“I’m just not sure we need another park. I think we’ve got lots of wilderness area, there’s lots of parks whether they’re municipal, whether they’re the UNESCO Global Geopark and all of the trails that are there, and provincial parks,” she said. “I don’t think that we need to take the liability of another park on.”

Tumbler Ridge Mayor Keith Bertrand was quick to clarify that the UNESCO Global Geopark is a boundary to conserve wilderness — not actually a park.

“It’s just a border that encompasses a large amount of geographical significance,” he said. “There’s no midway, there’s no ferris wheel or anything like that. It’s not actually a park.”

“It’s a downfall of that designation that people believe that it’s a protected park area, but it is not,” he said.

Electoral director Dan Rose agreed with Ackerman but added that park discussions are better addressed with local First Nations, with which Bertrand agreed.

“I think it would be a really good subject for our community to community meetings, to have that conversation and ask if there’s interest in some shared spaces that could be developed together,” Rose said. “It might be a good way to build some relationships.”

The PRRD has estimated that studying options for a new regional park will likely take two to three years to complete.

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