THE BIG LAKE COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
The Big Lake Community Association (BLCA) was registered as non-profit society in 1984. Membership is open to anybody over the age of 18 living or owning property within 35 kilometres of the Big Lake Store. Twelve of its fourteen Directors are elected by the members at the Annual General Meeting. Two Directors—the Fire Chief and the Hall Caretaker—are appointed by virtue of their positions.
The BLCA’s constitution requires it “to promote, foster and develop community spirit and good citizenship”. It is responsible for running the Community Hall and is the governing body for the Big Lake Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department. The Association also operates the Post Office and owns and manages two heritage sites.
The Community Hall
The Community Hall is attractively located on the south shore of Big Lake. It was built, largely by volunteer labour and donated materials and equipment, in 1987. In addition to being the community’s main centre for social activities, it houses the Post Office and the Big Lake Branch of the Cariboo Regional District’s Library Network. By arrangement with the School District the Hall is used as a school gym and for other school activities throughout the school year. The Hall is also available for private functions and is often rented for weddings, anniversary parties and the like. Information can be obtained from the Caretaker at 250-243-0024.
The Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department (VF/R)
Founded by a group of dedicated volunteers in 1996, the VF/R is an independent fire department operated entirely by volunteers. The Chief, Deputy Chief and Captains are appointed by the BLCA on the recommendation of the Department’s members. Housed in a spacious fire hall, built in 2000, the Department has three trucks and an excellent inventory of emergency equipment including “jaws of life”. The members undertake regular training in many kinds of emergency response and most are also qualified as first responders. In a typical year about 37% of the Department’s calls are for medical emergencies, 29% for fires, 19% for motor vehicle accidents and 15% for search and rescue and a variety of other kinds of emergency. In 2008 the Department became certified with the Fire Underwriters Survey and insurers are consequently allowed to classify residential properties in Big Lake as “semi-protected” and give substantial discounts on premiums.
As an independent Fire Department the VF/R receives no tax money and is financed by a combination of provincial gaming funds, donations and a property owners’ voluntary levy. The levy amount paid by property owners is in most cases more than offset by the reduction in insurance premiums resulting from the Department’s certification.
The Heritage Sites
In 2005-6 the Association was given two lots on the north shore of the lake, both of which have historical significance. Lot 4 is the site of the original Big Lake road house and still contains two of the original ranch building. Lot 9 is the site of William Parker’s grave with its original (1927) railings and tombstone. The Association is developing Lot 4 as a Heritage Park. It is restoring the old log buildings, installing interpretive signage and laying out walking trails to allow access to the ecologically interesting riparian area where Big Lake Creek flows into the lake. The work on Lot 9 is of two kinds: the creation of a cemetery centred on the Parker grave site and the development of a family picnic area on the lakeshore.
The Big Lake Ranch Post Office
The Community Association took over the operation of the Post Office when it was threatened with closure in 2007. Canada Post has installed community mailboxes at the Heritage Park site and mail is delivered there daily in the early afternoon. Post office counter services and large parcel pick up are housed in the basement of the Community Hall and available from noon to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday with special arrangements for people unable to get there at those times.