Big Rock parking access restricted
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 08:38 am
Restricted access to the Okotoks erratic parking lot has people scratching their heads, yet Alberta Culture wants to assure the public the site is still open for use.
A yellow metal gate with a “closed” sign has been blocking entry to the parking lot that allows access to the Big Rock since last fall with no explanation.
However, according to Alberta Culture communications the erratic is open to the public but the parking lot and washrooms will remain closed until May 15.
“The reasons there’s a gate up is we don’t maintain that parking lot or the washrooms there during the winter,” said Alberta Culture communications director John Tuckwell. “People are still welcome to go, it’s just now a bit of a hike. It’s not closed as such, we just don’t maintain it.”
Tuckwell said the decision to close the parking lot and washrooms near the designated historic site from mid-October to mid-May was made in 2010 following a number of complaints about motorists getting stuck in the parking lot and the washrooms being messy.
“What I’m hearing from the department is that the cost of clearing that parking lot for people is not cost effective given the number of people who indicate they would go,” he said.
However, Crazy Creek Timber Frame Homes administrator Marla Brown, who lives east of the erratic, said the site is well used year round.
“I’ve never counted but on a nice day there’s probably 200 people there,” she said. “It’s just one group after another. In the summer it’s even more with weddings and photo shoots. It’s well used summer and winter.”
Brown said she even noticed a large group of people during the Christmas holidays venture onto the site.
“I think it was a church group,” she said. “There had to be 100 people. They walked in groups to the Big Rock and they all had to park along the highway.”
Tuckwell admitted Alberta Culture could have done a better job communicating the reason of the closure to the public.
“We just realized there is nothing on our website so we are going to address that,” he said. “We could probably consider some signage as well. I’ll get our program people to have a look at that and maybe add to the closed sign.”
Tuck said Alberta Culture has received no calls regarding the gate and sign this year or last. He said the gate will be opened by the Department of Infrastructure on May 15.