A locked gate at the access point to the Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River seems to indicate that CP Rail had little intention of fulfilling its promise to the community of Golden and the rafting companies to provide access to this iconic tourist product, says Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.
“Despite the promise to the community on April 22 that raft companies would have access to the Lower Canyon on the Kicking Horse River, negotiations to finalize the agreement have dragged on and a locked gate has been installed barring access to Glacier Raft staff, even though they’d been promised access today to do training in preparation for tomorrow’s season opening,” he said in a statement.
“I sat in that room with Mayor Ron Oszust and representatives of the rafting companies and was told by Mark Wallace, Chief of Staff to CEO Hunter Harrison that CP Rail was going to provide access to the Lower Canyon. There was an apology from CP Rail for the disruption that had been caused to the community, and a clear statement that they had a solution. We took Mr. Wallace at his word.”
Instead, negotiations have been drawn out to the eleventh hour, with only hours before the season opening.
“I hold CP Rail directly responsible for this fiasco,” the NDP MLA said. “There may be attempts to cast blame on other parties, but I reject that. CP Rail came to my community and made a clear promise. Today, with the refusal to allow access to the Lower Canyon for training, they have broken that promise, and that is simply unacceptable to this community.”
Prior to the announcement on April 22 that an agreement in principle had been reached, the community rallied in support of the rafting companies, signed petitions, and sent emails. The Save our Lower Canyon group garnered the public support of Senator Nancy Greene Raine and others from across the country.
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone immediately came to the aid of the community, putting significant resources towards settling the issue with CP Rail.
“I know I speak for the entire community when I say that the work that has been done by the Province to reach a deal has been very much appreciated. This is the responsibility of CP Rail to solve, and it is the expectation of the people of Golden that CP Rail do what needs to be done to fulfill their commitment to the community. Nothing less is acceptable.”
The rafting season was scheduled to open on Saturday, May 21.