British Columbia

Owners close 'perfect' B.C. swimming spot for now, but hope to gift land to municipal district

A private former quarry on Vancouver Island has been a much-loved spot for locals to swim, but concerns about safety, over-crowding and a recent death in the area have prompted its closure for now.

'If you go there, you'd understand why it should belong to the people of B.C.,' says owner

Grant Dakus, who co-owns a quarry in Cobble Hill in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, says it's become a 'great swimming spot.' (Submitted by Grant Dakus)

The owners of a former quarry on Vancouver Island — a much-loved local swimming spot — says while concerns about safety and over-crowding have prompted its closure for now, they hope to gift the quarry and some surrounding parkland to the Cowichan Valley Regional District so it can be enjoyed by the public in the future. 

Grant Dakus, who co-owns the quarry land with his brother, says the former limestone quarry in Cobble Hill filled up with water at the end of its quarrying days and has become "a great swimming spot."

"[The water] has minerals in it to give it a beautiful blue tinge. It is almost … perfect," Dakus said to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West. 

"There's a reason why it's one of the most popular places on the South Island."

While Dakus and his brother haven't openly encouraged people to swim at the quarry, which is also known as Kingzett Lake, he has "tolerated" people coming for the 16 years they have owned the site. 

However, the past few years have seen an explosion in its popularity. Dakus says the sheer volume of people and traffic in the area is hard to deal with without any infrastructure.

"There's days now where there'll be 2,000 people at any given time," he said. "We've had up to 500 cars parked around the gates and along the roads."

No washrooms or other facilities

While nearby residents have been tolerant of the visitors, there's no washrooms or other facilities near the lake to accommodate the influx. A recent death of a visitor in an ATV accident also prompted safety concerns.

The brothers have now closed the area, with the intention of installing some improved fencing in the near future.  The closure has prompted an outpouring of interest from local residents, who have been calling the brothers to share their concerns and ideas about the future of the park, 

Dakus said he and his brother would like to see the park in the hands of the municipality. They've been considering gifting the park to the Cowichan Valley Regional District for the past few years, even passing up some lucrative offers to sell.

"If you go there, you'd understand why it should belong to the people of B.C.," he said.

A statement from a spokesperson with the Cowichan Valley Regional District says the area has been identified within the municipality's regional parks and trails plan as desirable park space. 

They also added there are no formal negotiations happening at this time, although there have been "conversations with the ownership group in recent years about that potential."

Dakus says he hopes the district will take up the offer.

"We are flexible and I think the CVRD is interested." 

Listen to the full interview with Grant Dakus on CBC's All Points West:

 

With files from All Points West

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