Golden mayor challenges the CPR chairman to “initiate the solution” over rafting dispute

Golden Mayor Ron Ozust is challenging CPR Chairman E Hunter Harrison to send the transportation giant’s negotiators back to the bargaining table or the local citizenry will be “paddling the Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River this May long weekend.”

Ozust, his Council, the local Chamber of Commerce and others are upset that the CPR is barring local rafting comanies from cross the CPR rail line at a key point in the canyon where they need to access the water. Until recently, the companies and the railway had an agreement that permitted this practice. That ended late last month and the local tourism sector economy has taken a hit because of it. (Please click here to read our story about this situation.)

“This letter is to inform you that our community, Golden, BC, expects to be paddling the Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River this May long weekend as part of our Annual Mountain Festival,” Mayor Ozust said in his letter. “It is our expectation that CP Rail will return to its role of good corporate citizen and community partner and come back to the table with a solution that ensures our access to this very important community asset.

“Mr. Harrison, do the right thing. Solve this problem. Stop this standoff between your company and the community of Golden.

“The citizens of the Golden and area will continue this battle, locally, nationally and internationally, and we are up to the fight. We have the historical agreements in place and legal support for those agreements. We have done our homework concerning other similar crossings across the country and we know that a solution can be easily reached.

“We know that there is an alternate crossing option, along with administrative and engineering solutions that can mitigate the risk.

“And we know that this should be a good news story for CP Rail; a story where a big company with a long history in a small community does the right thing.

“Or, you can choose to fight the small fight and limit access to the road at the put-in by putting up a gate. You can state safety issues as being at the core of this and refuse to work towards a resolution. You can choose to try to drag this out by sending your people to meetings but not allow them to offer viable solutions.

“You can choose to be part of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) facilitation and mediation process or force the initiation of a formal drawn-out CTA application.

“But our entire community is asking you to choose today to be part of the solution. When it comes to this community’s relationship with CP Rail, the answer can’t be no. Not for us, and not for CP Rail.

“I am honored to represent the people of Golden, a community I have called home for 28 years. This is a community with a spirit of adventure and strength. We are passionate about natural surroundings and are defined by the determination that we will not give up access to our public lands and rivers.

“Golden and area residents will stand their ground. We will not accept the loss of access to the Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River.

“Now the ball is in your court. Be the one to initiate the solution to this situation. Because it makes sense – to all involved.”

Ron Ozust
Town of Golden, BC