The First Nations operator of Sloquet Hot Springs, a remote site northeast of Vancouver near Harrison Lake, says people have been leaving piles of trash, damaging facilities and even stealing equipment, despite the fact that it's been closed for months due to the pandemic.
The hot pools, which drain into Sloquet Creek, are a natural, peaceful place that have been used by the Xa'xtsa First Nation (also called the Douglas First Nation) for generations.
"Our ancestors have used the hot and cold water as healing," said Darryl Peters, business manager for TTQ Economic Development Corporation, a Xa'xtsa First Nation business arm. "It's one of those important sites that have been used by our people from time out of mind."
The site was closed in November when COVID-19 transmission increased in the province. Peters said they rented fences to block the road and posted signs. The operators — who normally stay at the campground to collect fees, supervise visitors and care for the site — went home.
"As soon as you let your guard down, people are sneaking in, either ramming through the fencing or taking the fencing and turfing them off to the side," said Peters.
He said crews have been going up every two or three weeks to check on the place, and what they're finding is very discouraging.
"Personally I get a little annoyed; I get upset that people are disrespecting the sign that's up," said Peters.
He said an operator's truck was left there as a result of ignition issues, and it was vandalized. A trailer that was left there was damaged as well.
A trail camera was mounted at the site after there were reports that cougars had been in the area. Peters said that was stolen.
"We've had people coming in and leaving their trash and driving over things, you know, just no care for the facility and no respect," he said. "They camp, party, soak and they leave and they leave all their stuff behind."
The garbage has to be collected and disposed of — all of which costs money, as fees aren't being collected.
Peters said they would like to reopen as soon as it's safe to do so, but in the meantime, he's asking people to stay away from Sloquet Hot Springs, and in general be respectful of the area by taking out anything they bring in.
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