Nestled in the middle of a wooded area just north of Shawnigan Lake lies Vancouver Island’s worst kept secret: Kingzett Lake or ‘the quarry’, as it is known by locals.
For 16 years, the owners of the private property on which the quarry lies, Mark and Grant Dakus, have tolerated the growing numbers of people that have flocked to the crystal clear waters every summer.
But according to them, there are now far too many people gathering at the swimming hole for the area to accommodate without having proper infrastructures in place.
The Quarry or Kingzett Lake has officially closed to the public as of the weekend of July 19-20, and the RCMP have been given the authority to issue fines for trespassers.
“Some days there can be up to 2,000 people. Last month we were bombarded with emails from people living around the corner that parking is insane. There are sometimes 300 to 500 vehicles at once,” says Grant Dakus in a phone interview with Victoria Buzz.
Back in 2004, when the duo first purchased the property at Cobble Hill, the quarry would see about one-twentieth of the current number of visitors each summer.
The fact that Kingzett Lake has seen such a major influx of new visitors in recent years can be attributed to the population growth of nearby cities like Victoria, coupled with the prevalence of social media posts that give away the location of what was once a well-kept secret.
Over the years, the Dakus’ have received many tempting offers from foreign and local buyers interested in taking the quarry off their hands, but the owners always believed in keeping the swimming hole freely available for all.
“When you look at everyone that goes to the quarry, there’s something for everybody there no matter what age. We really believe that it should belong to the province and it should be regulated and be a safe environment for everybody,” said Mark Dakus.
Now, the pair are poised to enter talks with the Cowichan Valley Regional District to plan ways in which to turn the property into a regional park for all to enjoy.
What the public wants
The Dakus’ vision of developing the quarry into a regional park for all to enjoy with parking lots, bathrooms, and other safeguards in place is consistent with a local petition that has recently begun to pick up steam again.
In August 2019, Victoria resident and media personality Bailey Parker launched a petition to explore ways of turning the limestone quarry into a park or protected area.
Since then, over 7,400 people have signed it and, with each signature, sent an automatic email to the board members of the Cowichan Valley Regional District showing staggering public support for the initiative.
“I love going there, I love everything about the quarry… it’s very fortunate that the owners want to turn it into a park. They could’ve just as easily sold it to someone private that would’ve destroyed the essence of the quarry,” said Parker.
“I understand that it’s going to be a process. It’s not just simply putting up some garbage cans and calling it a day.”
She recognizes that one of the challenges in the way of this major project is the economic toll of developing the land.
Nevertheless Parker, along with the Dakus’, are hopeful that enough if people are passionate enough about keeping Kingzett Lake free and open for all, the initiative will move forward in a timely fashion.
“I would hope for it to be sooner rather than later because I want to go for a swim!”