By Steve Hubrecht

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Work on the planned new parking lot on the southeastern side of Toby Creek Road at the Lillian Lake recreation site began earlier this week and will continue until mid-March. 

The trails that this parking lot will serve have long been popular with locals and visitors, in summer, in winter, and in the shoulder seasons. In the snowy months, plenty of people are out the Lake Lillian trail network nordic skiing, fat biking, snowshoeing, trail running and dog walking. But Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC), a branch of the provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, is asking the public to avoid the area from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Mondays through Fridays while work is ongoing, in the interest of public safety, and to help the contractor complete the project efficiently.

The work is being carried out by CS McLean Contracting Ltd. It began on Monday, Feb. 27 and should be completed on Wednesday, Mar. 15.

“This project is intended to reduce congestion along the busy Toby Creek Road and provide a safe parking area for users of the Lillian Lake recreation trails,” the ministry outlined in a statement to the Pioneer. 

The Lillian Lake recreation site (commonly called ‘Lake Lillian’ by local Columbia Valley residents) includes sections of the southeastern shore of Lillian Lake (including a small grassy beach, a dock and a boat launch, picnic tables, outhouses) to the north of Toby Creek Road as well as the Lillian Lake trail network on the other side.

Upgrades at the site began last spring and started by expanding the parking lot on the northwestern (lake) side of Toby Creek Road. Completing the parking lot on the southeastern (trails) side of the road is a continuation of these efforts. The upgrades are being undertaken because for years people have been parking on the lake side and then crossing the busy road to access the trails for biking, running or walking (or snowshoeing, nordic skiing and fat biking in the winter). The situation was complicated by the fact that this unofficial crossing is located between two potentially dangerous corners of Toby Creek Road, which sees heavy and fast-moving traffic at certain times, and because use of the recreation site has increased substantially in recent years.

At very busy times, trail users were in fact parking along Toby Creek Road itself. Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok told the Pioneer last spring that “it was like a Costco parking lot. It’s very, very dangerous from a public safety perspective.” 

The new trailside parking lot should be able to accommodate roughly 50 vehicles once finished.

The Lillian Lake recreation trails are managed by RSTBC, with help from the Toby Creek Nordic Club and the Columbia Valley Cycling Society.