UPDATE: The city of Fort St. John released the following statement on social media:
“We are aware of the reports of mechanical work being done in the area and are working with the operators of the Rotary Campground to remind drivers that mechanical work can’t be conducted in this area. Further, we saw the images of the 5-gallon containers of oil and other fluids; however, they were no longer there as of yesterday, July 26.“
CHARLIE LAKE, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John says staff are working to address reported industrial trucks taking advantage of the Charlie Lake boat launch permit system.
Permits for industrial trucks, which can be obtained from the Fort St. John Rotary Club, allow commercial truck drivers to park at the campground.
These permits came into play last year after some residents voiced their concerns about the number of commercial trucks parked at the launch.
Other residents defended the truck owners, saying they’re staying at the campground due to the lack of truck stops in the city. The permit system was created to strike a balance in the interests of residents.
Ryan Harvey with the city says that workers with commercial trucks often use the campsite instead of driving home every night.
“That was an important piece for those people to make their livelihoods. We wanted to ensure they had that permit available to them so that the City of Fort St. John, as a property owner in the regional district, could meet the bylaws required by the PRRD,” Harvey explained.
However, earlier this week, Energeticcity received a tip from a Charlie Lake resident who alleged that some commercial trucks were abusing the permit system, reportedly using the lot as a maintenance area.
When reporters travelled to the launch, they discovered four five-gallon pails of oil near the grass adjacent to the lake and playground and multiple oil spills in the parking lot.
Harvey says that while the city owns the property, it’s located in the PRRD’s jurisdiction, and thus, the city has to deal with issues in accordance with PRRD bylaws.
“Our bylaws don’t apply to our land outside of the city. We follow the bylaws that are in place. So our bylaw department cannot go out there and enforce the regional district bylaws,” Harvey explained.
However, Harvey says this does not absolve the city of responsibility.
“The city is still responsible as the landowner to deal with these issues that are being brought up,” he added.
He clarified that residents can still submit their complaints to the Fort St. John bylaw office, which will be passed along to the PRRD.
He says that in the past month, the bylaw office has received four complaints about commercial trucks at the launch: three being about parking and one about alleged maintenance taking place there.
Going forward, Harvey says the city’s public works department will assess the situation to determine possible solutions.
“When we heard there were oil barrels there, we had staff start to look into that and try and figure out what’s going on. So those conversations have already started,” Harvey said.
While he couldn’t provide a timeline, Harvey seemed confident that city staff would be able to resolve the issue.
“If that situation is being taken advantage of, we will work on rectifying those issues.”
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