In the past dozen years, the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC has expanded significantly throughout the province.
From barely 100 paid members and a handful of Region 2 recreation sites in the West Harrison area, such as Hale Creek and Francis, Sunrise, and Wilson Lakes, we’ve grown to add the Nahatlatch fire tower in 2012, Lodestone and Wells Lakes on the Whipsaw Trail in Region 8 (Okanagan), the Lavina fire tower in Region 4 (Kootenays), Cornwall fire tower in Region 3 (Thompson-Nicola), and continued signing on rec sites in regions 7a (Omineca), 7b (Peace), and 5 (Cariboo), to a total of 23 rec sites under our stewardship, and nearly 4,000 paid members.
So far, though, the one highly-populated part of the province conspicuously absent from our roster has been Region 1, Vancouver Island.
Today, that changes.
In June 2021, a few of our Directors and volunteers met up with the District Recreation Officer for the north island to undertake an eight-day tour of several lesser-known RSTBC rec sites: Side Bay, Gooding Cove, O’Connell Lake, Klaskish, Nahwitti Lake, and Quinsom Lake.
Along the way, they were joined by various local wheelers, experienced the occasional breakage, and were treated to the kindness of the residents of Port Alice and other surrounding communities. Enough can’t be said for how genuine and welcoming the people were in this part of BC, going out of their way to help our crew and show them around! Even without the rec sites, their hospitality alone would be worth the trip.
But this is about rec sites and stewardship and wheeling, and in that spirit, we are thrilled to announce that we’ve signed a maintenance contract with Recreation Sites and Trails BC to take on the care of Side Bay, Gooding Cove, and O’Connell Lake!
Moving forward, we will be planning cleanup, signage, and facilities upgrades in accordance with RSTBC directives, and engaging local members for each site’s ongoing care. Watch for events to be posted starting next spring – scroll to the contact form at the bottom of this page and select “Volunteering” as the Department Contact to let us know!
Our deepest thanks to Discovery Coast District Recreation Officer Graham Cameron for his dedication to this project.
Side Bay Rec Site is a remote access recreation site on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This remote and rustic site is accessed via the community of Port Alice. Users should be prepared for unmaintained industrial roads, logging traffic, and equipped for self-rescue in the event of an emergency. Side Bay is one of the best-kept secrets of the North Island. With a beautiful sand beach and freshwater on site, don’t visit the North Island without taking the time to enjoy and explore Side Bay Rec Site.
A reminder to all users: driving on intertidal areas (any area which is below the highest water mark, i.e. a beach) is an offence under the Federal Fisheries Act and could result in charges by the DFO. Observe, Record, Report: 1-800-465-4336
Gooding Cove Recreation Site is a remote access rec site on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It is truly one of the rare gems of the North Island, hosting a beautiful sand beach and freshwater on site; this is a location not to be missed during your exploration of the area. This remote and rustic site is accessed via the community of Port Alice. Users should be prepared for unmaintained industrial roads, logging traffic, flash flooding, and be fully equipped for self-rescue in the event of an emergency.
A reminder to all users: driving on intertidal areas (any area which is below the highest water mark, ie the beach) is an offence under the Federal Fisheries Act and could result in charges by the DFO. Observe, Record, Report: 1-800-465-4336
O’Connell Lake Rec Site is a small site on beautiful O’Connell Lake, within the Northern area of Vancouver Island. An old trestle divides the lake on an isthmus of land. There are two options for boat launch at the site with a canoe launch on one side and a car top boat launch on the other.
O’Connell Lake is a remote access recreation site with rustic amenities and near the community of Port Alice. Users should be prepared for unmaintained industrial roads and logging traffic, and be equipped for self-rescue in the event of an emergency.
O’Connell Lake Rec Site is truly unique in the North Island, with local logging history, great fishing, and a challenging 4×4 road, it offers many forms of recreation for keen outdoor enthusiasts.
Are you a Vancouver Island resident interested in helping with the rebuilding and ongoing maintenance of one or more of these sites?
Do you know of a rec site in your area that needs some TLC?
Drop an email to Director of Regions, Jason Belanger, and let’s start talking. Our Directors come from many parts of the province, but we still rely on local members to let us know what’s happening nearby and how our support can help make things happen!