Sep 21, 2012 / 2:25 pm
Chute Lake Resort gallery
For Gary and Doreen Reed, the resort they operate at scenic Chute Lake is their own little piece of paradise.
In summer, people come to fish, swim, and travel across the lake in canoes. When snow blankets the ground in winter, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and ice fishing are available.
But life at the South Okanagan lodge has not been the same since a service road was washed out last spring.
“In all the years I have operated Chute Lake Resort, I have not seen anything as bad as this. It is impacting me, my business, and the people who live up here,” said Gary Reed.
Before last April, people could drive on Elinor Lake Forest Service Road to get to Elinor Lake, a government campground, or travel on to Kelowna.
Now the road is so badly damaged that people use Chute Lake Road, which runs right in front of the lodge.
The couple are well aware that living in a remote place comes with its own set of trials and tribulations.
Heavy rains washed out Chute Lake Road in the 1990s, a time when people were coming from all over for an antique sale at the resort. Doreen Reed turned to the government for assistance in getting people through, but it was not an easy fix.
In 2003, flames from the Okanagan Mountain Park fire came within 10 feet of the lodge, leading the owners to again turn to the government for assistance. The reaction then was quick, said Doreen Reed.
The Chute Lake area also saw heavy traffic when Highway 97 recently closed because of construction concerns.
The current situation began last April after heavy rains caused a buildup of water, which overwhelmed the culverts at the start of the road where it meets Chute Lake Road. The potential for a flash flood forced the evacuation of residents living down below.
Since then, the crossing at Chute Creek has been unusable.
“Nothing has been done to fix it, and the traffic is going right through our property,” said Doreen Reed. “We have had guests get up and leave because it is so noisy and there is no signage to say there is a different way to get to Kelowna or Penticton, so people are constantly knocking on our door asking for directions. ”
Their worst experience, by far, was on the night of the Peachland fire.
Motorists, frustrated by traffic delays on Highway 97, sped up windy Chute Lake Road on the other side of Okanagan Lake to get home.
“It was mayhem,” said Doreen Reed. “The traffic here was like the highway, and people were getting lost and knocking on our door for help, some sober and some not. ”
It got so bad at one point that the owners created a makeshift sign pointing the way to Kelowna.
Gary Reed said he brought up the matter at the recent meeting on the Kettle Valley Railway Trail and was told it could cost as much as $100,000. He even offered to pay for the culverts to get the road fixed, but so far has seen little action.
The pair hopes something will be done in the near future, otherwise they are debating circulating a petition.
“People have said they would be happy to sign it,” she said. “But we would like to deal with the government first. ”
In July, Ken Cunningham, the area resource manager for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said there are no immediate plans to replace the crossing. He could not be reached for comment on Friday. But ministry staff said his prior statements still hold true.
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