By David F. Rooney
Directors and users of the Illecillewaet Greenbelt are unhappy with the way BC Hydro contractors, who had been dredging the river last month, left the scene of their operations.
“These trails are high profile areas that are well used and for Hydro to leave them as they are is a slap in the face to the users,” says Don Pegues, a director of the Illecillewaet Greenbelt Society who performs or oversees a lot of the Greenbelt’s regular maintenance.
He said he was shocked at the conditions left by the contractors when he went down to begin raking out one of the trails. So were users, among them some moms pushing infant chariots.
“I ran into two women trying to get their chariots down to water beside the new bridge,” Pegues said. “The river rock spread from the rehab was making it very difficult for them. Displeasure was being voiced…”
“Their (Hydro’s) access road where it intersects the trail and leads into the river bed is very rutted as they obviously had been driving heavy vehicles down to do the hydro seeding,” he said. “Their idea of landscaping was to back-blade with a crawler tractor that brought all the large round gravel to the top leaving a very rough surface. The intersection of the trail and road at the pine forest area had gone from a four-foot wide path down to a lumpy rocky narrow trail. This is the area I was trying to rake out and quit. The other intersection where the road comes off the dike and leads to the Greenbelt and the new bridge hasn’t been improved.”
Jennifer Walker-Larsen, BC Hydro’s community liaison, visited the sit and said much of what appears disturbing to some was unavoidable.
“BC Hydro expects that by the end of the growing season this year the access route and work areas will look very different than they do now,” she told The Current. The access route was recently scarified and hydro-seeded with a native grass seed mix. Scarification was necessary to reduce ground compaction and promote seedling growth. We expect the sites to flatten out naturally as the seeded vegetation grows. Also most of the access roads and riverbank work areas are below the high water mark. We expect those areas to be further smoothed out by Arrow Lakes Reservoir which will soon start to refill.”
She said the access route used for the heavy equipment that completed last month’s dredging has been used in the past by the utility, the Ministry of Forests ,Lands and Natural Resources and the City of Revelstoke and was not widened.
“BC Hydro will keep an eye on the regrowth,” said. “We are planning to revisit the work areas and assess the success of the restoration work later this year once the Arrow Lakes Reservoir water levels recede.”
Walker-Larsen also offered to meet with members of the Greenbelt’s board to discuss the restoration work and any other concerns” they have about the project.
“I have no problems with what Jen said except for the fact the area had well used and fairly smooth trails 3 to 6 feet wide,” Pegues said. “Restore those to the original state. I think that is all we’re looking for.”
Here are some photos of the area in question that were taken on April 16: