Rowdy parties prompt closure of old logging road

Access denied for recreational users, homesteaders.

A red circle marks the spot where a now-closed logging road on private property connects with a portion of Old Yale Road.

A red circle marks the spot where a now-closed logging road on private property connects with a portion of Old Yale Road.

The owner of a Vedder Mountain property frequented by rowdy partiers says he had no choice but to close down a road that cuts through his land.

When Anthony Penner bought the 113-acre plot, located off a portion of Old Yale Road in the far southeastern reaches of Abbotsford, he hoped to develop the land. Those efforts have thus far been unsuccessful after council rejected proposed developments in 2010 and again in 2011 following vocal opposition from Sumas Prairie residents.

Instead the land has become a popular place for teens to stage unauthorized parties.

Earlier this year, police were called to break up an event involving 500 teens, and Penner said the property has sustained more than $200,000 worth of “environmental damage” over the years.

Police, he said, can only stop a party in progess – they can’t prevent them from starting.

So, Penner – who doesn’t live on the property – has blocked an old logging road that cuts through his land. The road, which is not part of a right-of-way, was previously favoured by recreational users and several homesteaders who live further up the property.

The legal access for those properties is via a forestry road from Cultus Lake, on the other side of the mountain, although the route through Penner’s property provides much quicker access to Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

While the decision to close the road has reportedly caused distress to at least one of those residents, Penner said the destruction to his property, concerns about legal liability, and the safety of residents and partiers left him with little choice.

“As a neighbourhood, we’re fed up. We’ve had enough.”

He said he’s spoken to the residents and “had many discussions to try and resolve access issues with these parties but have not had their co-operation.

“I empathize with the people up there, but we had to do something.”

It’s not the first time Penner has tried to cut off access. He has built several gates on the road over the years, most recently in 2013, but each time vandals have torn them down. His latest barrier is made of concrete blocks that would require heavy machinery to remove.

Attempts by The News to contact recreational users and other property owners were not successful by press time.