Horseshoe lake is valued as a local picnic and bird watching site by residents and tourists.
Horseshoe lake is valued as a local picnic and bird watching site by residents and tourists.

The McBride and District Chamber of Commerce has signed a lease with the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George to maintain Horseshoe Lake Recreation area, an important bird watching and picnic area, about a kilometer from the McBride train station.

Dannielle Allen of the Chamber says they took over the lease last October and will be working to enhance existing infrastructure to make it usable and enjoyable for visitors and locals alike. She says they have contracted a maintenance company for the summer, and are working with Regional District to have some new interpretive signs installed to help educate people about the importance of the wetlands and birds.

The Regional District’s 2010 parks plan says the McBride community, “represented by the Ozalenka Alpine Club,” wanted to eventually see a walking trail that circles the lake and connects with Dominion Creek trail through the village. But Allen says the lake is surrounded by marsh, which is not ideal for trail building, and private property, so there are no plans for a trail right now. She says the Chamber may also look into dredging the lake to try to get the invasive lily pads under control.

Allen says some holes in the fence of the existing gazebo have been repaired, and the Chamber is hoping to install a commemorative bench in honour of Steve Gellette, who was instrumental in the original construction of the gazebo and boardwalk in the area.

Horseshoe Lake Recreation area was opened in 1991, and run by the Chamber of Commerce under a land use agreement with the Regional District. In 2008, the Chamber gave up the maintenance of the park because of the cost of insurance. The RD took over insurance briefly, as it is a requirement of the lease of crown land, but had considered letting the lease lapse when it came up for renewal in 2011. In 2013, when no other non-profit came forward to maintain the property, it was signed as “closed and unmaintained” by the Regional District for liability reasons.

By: Korie Marshall