Council not letting Lower Canyon issue go

The role the Town of Golden has in the dispute over the lower canyon remains unclear.

The potential loss of access to the Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River could be detrimental to Golden, but the role the Town of Golden has in the dispute is very unclear.

The economic impact to the community has been estimated (based on visitor data collected by Tourism Golden) at $5.85 million a year. Yet the location of the crossing, which CP has stated is not safe for the use of rafters, or anyone, is located in Area A of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

As local politicians, they may have influence, but unfortunately they do not have jurisdiction.

MLA Norm Macdonald and MP Wayne Stetski have been part of the conversation, and Mayor Ron Oszust even received a phone call from Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.

With no shortage of political representatives getting involved, Town Council discussed the possibility that the negotiation and leveraging role in this issue might be better served by someone else.

“I’m happy to keep Ron (Oszust) as a spokesperson on this issue, but I’d also be happy to hand over the leveraging to a higher level,” said Coun. Caleb Moss, adding that behind closed doors someone like Minister Bond might have a stronger impact.

The next step in the process is also unclear, but it was suggested that a request sent to CTA (Canadian Transportation Agency) might be a good step. Given that the Lower Canyon access point is in Area A, Director Karen Cathcart is looking into that process, which would require consent from the CSRD Board.

“Advocacy is absolutely required from local government,” she said. “I’m on this. I’m working on it.”

In the meantime, is was discussed just how ugly the negotiations may get. If words don’t yield the necessary results, one councillor said he would be willing to take the next step, although that hopefully will not be needed.

“If we decide to go out there and hold hands on the railroad tracks and disrupt train traffic, we’re going to get more attention for the group we’re supporting than we would with policy statements…those are the kinds of things that get immediate action,” said Moss. “And I’m willing to do that, as long as I can pick and choose whose hands I hold.”

“I’m much more hopeful than that,” said Mayor Oszust, who has been very vocal with the media throughout the process. “Especially now with more involvement from higher up.”