The annual Puntledge Paddle Festival has been cancelled this year largely because of access issues.
Each May for the past several years, hundreds of canoeists, kayakers and rafters have participated in the weekend gathering, hosted by the Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society.
In January of this year, 3L Developments closed access to its property around Stotan Falls because of liability concerns. The company said no individual or vehicle access would be allowed through the property, which includes hundreds of acres along the Puntledge and Browns rivers.
“Last year, they (3L) allowed us onto the property, but this year that was not the case,” festival spokesman David Prothero said. “It’s a real shame because it’s a gem. A lot of people tube it, but when that river is in, it is probably one of the better rivers in Western Canada for play boating.”
He said the Puntledge is a unique river because there’s an upper section — which includes Stotan and Nymph Falls — and a lower section, which is an easier grade but still fairly continuous with waves and other play features.
“It’s on the upper level of paddling,” Prothero said.
For years, the Nanaimo-based 3L has been hoping to build homes in the area but has been stymied by the Comox Valley Regional District. The company has taken the CVRD to court about due process. The case was heard in BC Supreme Court last month in Vancouver.