Opportunity missed

Golden had the chance to make some improvements along the Kicking Horse River but rejected the proposed Bridge to Bridge project.

I am going to say something in this column this week that is going to be very unpopular with some people…I think we missed a tremendous opportunity two years ago.

Golden had the chance to make some improvements along the Kicking Horse River dyke, necessary improvements, improvements that would have been predominantly paid for by the Province.

I know the story isn’t as simple as that. There were aspects of the project that not everyone was on board with, primarily the beautification, and that the municipality’s portion of the project would have impacted local tax bills.

But the fact remains, we have a problem with our dyke, and it’s putting private, commercial and public property at risk. Whether you agreed with the particulars of the project or not, Golden has not had an opportunity to make those necessary upgrades since…unless we wanted to pay for it 100 per cent out of pocket.

And who knows when/if a grant will become available again. And even though several residents keep suggesting dredging the river as solution, provincial regulations prohibit the Town from doing that (unless gravel levels reach a certain height).

A section of dyke near Golden Transfer was fixed this summer through provincial funds, but it had to be declared an emergency situation first.

The town has had a couple close calls in the past few years. There was an ice jam situation last winter, although later in the season, where there was a potential threat to property.

This past week several downtown businesses had water pouring into their basements, and at least one private homeowner had significant flooding on her property. (See story on pages 1 and 5).

I can’t say that the Bridge to Bridge project was 100 per cent, for sure the right project for this town. But it was only option at the time. And when the community said no to that project, it was a decision to do nothing.

Doing nothing didn’t cost the municipality anything at the time (although it might end up costing more in the long run if the dyke improvements have to be done out of pocket), but it didn’t solve any problems either.

What’s done is done, and there’s nothing that can change it now. What concerns me more, is will it happen again?

If Golden has another chance to fix the problem, even if the solution isn’t “perfect” will the community choose to do nothing again?

For the sake of the businesses and homeowners with property along the river, I hope not.