MOBERLY LAKE, B.C. – Fire Lake Beach opened up exclusively for Saulteau members and their guests on Monday.
Privately owned by Saulteau First Nations membership, the beach spot has always been a popular place to beat the heat.
Throughout the years, its popularity has grown to the point that nation members found it difficult to utilize. The influx of motorized boats and jet skis became a threat to swimmers and kayakers, leading to a boat perimeter having to be set up.
Saulteau First Nations Chief Justin Napolean says the decision to make the beach exclusive to membership was “never racially charged or an attempt to be discriminatory.” It was all about having a place for Saulteau families to gather.
“With over 70 per cent of the beachfront land on Moberly Lake being privately owned, there is less and less access to Moberly Lake for our 1300 members,” said Napolean.
The band has a crew specifically tasked with maintaining the site. In the past, the lands crew found the beach riddled with remnants, such as broken glass and garbage, from parties at the site.
This was also a factor in the band’s decision to close the beach to the general public, aiming to keep the location safe for children.
“Respectfully, we maintain the park, keep it clean and safe. It’s not a party site,” said Napolean.
Fire Lake Beach has been under construction by the band and only opened up to nation members and their guests on Monday.
New additions to the site include a children’s park, six picnic tables, a changing area, and washrooms. There is also free firewood available to beachgoers.
Due to the increased traffic due to Site C and industry, the band put up a controlled walkway light between Fire Lake Access Road and the Crowfeathers Store to make it safer for young and old crossing the busy highway.
Other First Nations Communities, including Westbank First Nations, also offer their members a private beach.
In the summertime, when the population in the Okanagan quadruples, the nation members have a spot of beach they can enjoy without having to be displaced and leave their community.
Moberly Lake offers many public swim sites, including nearby Spencer’s Tuck Regional Park and the Moberly Lake Provincial Park.