British Columbia

New buoys installed at Cultus Lake in wake of serious collision involving Indigenous canoe

New control buoys have been installed at Cultus Lake to serve as a reminder of the 10 km/hr speed limit within 30 metres from shore.

In 2020, the occupant of an Indigenous racing canoe was injured after a collision with motor boat

Buoys have been installed at Cultus Lake in an effort to remind boaters of speed restrictions. (CBC)

Visitors to a popular Fraser Valley recreation site over the Victoria Day long weekend may have noticed something different in the water.

New control buoys have been installed at Cultus Lake to serve as a reminder of the 10 km/hr speed limit within 30 metres from shore.

On any warm summer day hundreds of people can be seen on the lake on boats, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and jet skis. Over the past two years traffic has increased significantly, according to David Jimmie, chief of the Ts'elxwéyeqw Tribe. 

"This is probably the highest we've ever seen it in all the years we've been here," he said.

Boat traffic has increased dramatically at Cultus Lake according to the local First Nation and election officials. (CBC)

Chilliwack–Kent MLA Kelli Paddon said that more boat traffic has led to an increase in risk on the water.

In July 2020, the occupant of an Indigenous racing canoe was taken to hospital to be treated for injuries following a collision with a motor boat. A 67-year-old Langley man was charged with operating a vessel without due care or consideration for other persons. 

Signage has been installed to remind the public of safety regulations as well as the importance of the lake to Indigenous people. (RCMP)

"I really feel the outcry from that was the impetus for the action we're seeing now," Paddon said.

"One of the important things to remember is that people from around here have been coming to enjoy the lake for a very long time, but the Sto:lo people have been here paddling on this lake for time immemorial."

After consultations with Indigenous First Nations and knowledge keepers, B.C. Parks, Transport Canada and RCMP, 40 new control buoys were installed as well as signs to remind the public of safety regulation as well as the importance of the lake to Indigenous people.

"Putting out the buoys was a big step for us because a lot of our canoes are following along the edges of the lake and they have their routes that they're training with," Jimmie said.

Longtime boater Jamie Vermeeren says it's all about respectfully sharing the lake. 

"The faster you go, your vision narrows," he said. "So really just watch what you're doing — pay attention. I've been out here a long time, even when it's crowded it's a lot of fun."

With files from Janella Hamilton

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