WATCH: Renewed questions are being asked about public access to forestry roads. That after a family says they were nearly stuck between two locked gates near Nanaimo over the weekend. It happened outside of Nanaimo on a road often used to access Mount Benson.
Alberni Valley resident Brittany Belanger is concerned about access to recreation grounds after she says she and her family almost got locked behind Island Timberlands’ gates on Cameron Main during Thanksgiving weekend
“We ended up saying that we had two children and that we needed to get out for their sake. And he reluctantly turned around and did let us out after a few choice words,” Belanger said.
Cameron Main leads to Mount Benson Regional Park.
It crosses Island Timberlands’ property.
The company’s blog lists times when the gates are open.
But Belanger says Island Timberlands can sometimes lock the gates outside those times without notice.
“They said it’s IT land and they can lock it whenever they choose to lock it. Could be 11 a.m., could be 4 p.m., could be 6 p.m. There’s been as late as 9 p.m. But you can never guarantee when the gate’s going to be locked,” she said.
For many in the area, this is an ongoing issue.
Island Timberlands’ owns thousands of hectares of land across Vancouver Island and the Haida Gwaii.
Some of it is used for recreation.
In an email to CHEK News, a company spokesperson said “Access may be restricted, temporarily or permanently, to ensure the safety of the public and our employees and contractors, protection of the environment, and the security of assets.”
Back in February, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver introduced a private member’s bill to spark discussion about the issue.
He intends to introduce it again this session.
In the meantime, Belanger says the situation is impacting her lifestyle.
“It actually aggravates us that we can’t go and hunt and fish and hike and do recreational activities with our children because we’re scared we’re going to get locked in there for the night,” she said.