Drama on Corbett Lake as protesters arrested

By on December 15, 2015
Kim Robinson, a member of the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club, being led off the lake by the RCMP. He and the other fishers were charged with mischief back on Dec. 15, 2015 when they accessed the Corbett Lake to ice fish in protest David Dyck/Herald

Several ice fishermen from the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club were arrested for mischief in the middle of a frozen Corbett Lake Tuesday afternoon. The group was from the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club, and the fishing trip was part of an organized protest against what they claim is an illegal blocking of a public lake by private companies.

Fishers arrived at the lake, situated about 20 kilometres southeast of Merritt, just off Highway 5A, at about 10 a.m., as police monitored their activity from just off the highway. Officers told the Herald that they were only observing at that time, using cameras and recording equipment to monitor the fishermen’s activity.

Celebratory hollers went up as fish were caught and flopped up onto the ice. Some men came and went, accessing the lake through a part of the wire fence that was lifted up, while police stood by and quietly watched.

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A fisherman making his way from the fence towards the middle of the lake. David Dyck/Herald

The lake is said to be surrounded by private property, owned by three different groups — the Corbett Lake Lodge, the Douglas Lake Cattle Company, and the Nicola Ranch.

The club has been arguing for years that since lakes in British Columbia are public, the privately owned land surrounding it illegally restricts access.

Members of the club, including McGowan, were arrested last January for fishing on the lake, and charged with trespassing. The Crown stayed the charges in October.

“If they’re out there and they’re going to go out on the lake, then they’re going to get arrested,” Sgt. Norm Flemming, of the Merritt RCMP detachment, told the Herald on the morning of the protest.”They are the masters of their own destiny.”

At about 11 p.m., with about six men on the lake, two police cruisers pulled up and five members of the RCMP made their way through the fence and onto the ice.

True to Flemming’s word, one RCMP member announced that the fishermen were under arrest for mischief. “I’ll get everyone to pack up their stuff, we’ll go up to the police cars and then I have some paperwork for you,” he said.

One of the fishermen, Kim Robinson, began to explain to the Herald that another member of the RCMP had told him to fish on the lake with the whole club. At that point, a police officer told Robinson he was being taken into custody. He was handcuffed and escorted off the lake, protesting loudly.

Kim Robinson arguing with a member of the RCMP. David Dyck photo

Kim Robinson arguing with a member of the RCMP. David Dyck/Herald

McGowan was then approached by police, as he stood with a fishing line in a hole in the ice. When he began to protest, officers told him he was being charged with obstruction as well as mischief. The Herald was later told that charge was dropped.

“You guys did the same thing a year ago, we were charged with trespassing and not one person was charged with trespassing,” he argued with the officers.

Eventually all the men were led from the lake.

“They’re charing us with a frivolous charge,” McGowan said from the side of the highway after the ordeal. “You can’t charge someone for going on a public lake that you’re allowed to catch five fish in [according to] the fishing regulations, and call it criminal mischief, and that’s what they’re doing. It’s harassment, that’s all it is — harassment.”

He said he hoped the charges would make it to court this time.

There were about six people charged. One left the scene in his vehicle before being processed, but he was flagged down and arrested shortly after, police said.

4 Comments

  1. Rhonda Davis

    December 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Who is MCGowan, I thought the story was about Kim Robinson being arrested?

    • Len Wagner

      December 15, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      The story is about billionaire Americans restricting access to OUR lakes …and using their paid police force to do so …

  2. H. Melvile

    December 15, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    McGowan has balls like MacGruber

  3. Sneaky Pete

    December 16, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    No lake should be cut off from the general public. It is a slippery slope when money can buy or ensnare the public’s waterway. Let it be known that Corbett Lake fish have white flesh from a diet of feed pellets & this can be substantiated by slipping through the turnstile in the animal fence along the main road with your fishing rod on any summer’s evening & casting from the shore. Cheers,

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