Negotiations between CP Rail and the provincial government to ensure promised access to the Kicking Horse River’s Lower Canyon are at an impasse.
This state of affairs deeply angers commercial rafting outfits and other members of the Golden community who believe CP Rail lied to them when it said on April 22 that a solution had been found.
And now rafters and their supporters are holding a public protest on Monday, June 13, at 6 pm (Mountain Time) in the town parking lot across from the 7-11 in downtown Golden.
“CP Rail Chief of Staff to Hunter Harrison, Mark Wallace, came to our community on April 22nd and guaranteed that there will be rafting on the Lower Canyon on the May long weekend,” Kicking Horse River Outfitters Association representative Ryan Johannesen, said in a statement.
“He called it a ‘great day… that shows what can happen when community and a railway come together and work jointly’, but it now seems that CP Rail had no intention of allowing access, and they proved that when they locked us out of the Lower Canyon the day before the season opening.”
Full footage of CP Rail’s announcement on April 22nd can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcqR0iN1YP8
CP Rail has flatly rejected what is considered by most to be a very reasonable offer from the Province of British Columbia, and now it seems the only option is to ramp up public opposition to CP Rail’s actions in this matter.
“Community members and river users will be gathering at 6 PM to show CP Rail that the community is not backing down,” Johanneses said.
“The community of Golden has been entirely supportive of our efforts to save the Lower Canyon. They understand not only the importance of retaining access for the rafting industry and the financial benefit that these tourists bring to our community, but they also understand the necessity to protect access to our public lands. If CP Rail can cut off access to this recreation asset they can cut off access to another recreation asset, and that is something that we simply won’t accept. This isn’t just about access for commercial operators, but also for recreational paddlers who have the Lower Canyon on their must-do list.”
The rally will be attended by a wide range of community representatives including Mayor of Golden Ron Oszust and Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.
Meanwhile, Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski has scolded the transportation giants ofr its actions.
“This is unacceptable,” he told The Revelstoke Current. “I strongly encourage Canadian Pacific Railway to resolve this issue now so that the Golden rafting companies can get back to doing what they have done for decades — safely accessing the lower canyon of the Kicking Horse River. I am quite prepared to make this a national issue around whether or not CPR should have the right to block Canadian’s access to our lakes and rivers across our country.”