This is the sight that greeted raft guides who were planning to do a training run on the Lower Canyon on Friday.

Raft owners frustrated

It's been a trying spring for the owners of Golden's two largest rafting companies, who are forced to play the waiting game once again.

Local rafting operators are understandably frustrated after Canadian Pacific set up a gate to block access to the Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River on the weekend.

This action comes after the company seemingly agreed to permit access to the Kicking Horse’s most intense section of white water in an Apr. 22 meeting with stakeholders, the Town of Golden and the Province. The temporary solution for this year was to hire a flagger to observe the crossing during set times of the day.

In previous years, rafts have had to be removed from the rapids in order to avoid a dangerous, unraftable section downriver from the Kicking Horse Rest Area. Rafters and their guides would then get in a bus, take a small access road further along the Trans Canada Highway and cross CP tracks in order to access the Lower Canyon stretch of rapids, which is seen as the crown jewel of Golden’s rafting industry. This part of the trip would take rafters through downtown Golden and under the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge.

When Transport Canada noticed this arrangement last summer, the governmental body told CP that a proper crossing needed to be put in place.

Jim Pleym, one of the owners of Alpine Rafting, says his company rafted the Lower Canyon earlier this month, a week before the gate was set up, with clients crossing the tracks to access the river just as they have in the past. A week later that was no longer possible.

“We saw them putting (the gate) in…there were four RCMP cars and the CP rail police cars as well. There were quite a few people standing there actually. Evidently they were anticipating a riot or something in the canyon,” Pleym said.

Glacier Raft Company didn’t kick off their season until the long weekend, but had a training run halted before it could even begin on May 20.

“There was no notice at all,” said Glacier owner Ryan Johannessen, adding that this gate looked a lot more permanent compared to a gate he had previously observed further down the access road.

Due to a heavy dose of rain over the long weekend, water levels were too high to raft the Lower Canyon anyway, but both Pleym and Johannessen believe it would be ready over the next few days under normal circumstances.

Johannessen was there when the sides appeared to come to to an agreement and says that the weekend’s developments were a major turn of events compared to what CP had agreed to on Apr. 22.

“As far as we knew they were just finalizing the language and agreement basically,” he said.

“The head guys from CP came here and they told us…’no problem for your opening weekend even if the agreement’s not all finalized, you guys will have access. We’re not going to impact your business’ and that clearly hasn’t happened, so we’re a little less than impressed.”

The kink in the deal appears to fall on liability, with CP reportedly expecting the Province to cover 100 per cent of the liability and the Province saying that CP needs to cover their fair share. Johannessen, however, says that liability was never discussed in the Apr. 22 meeting where an agreement in principle was announced.

Negotiations between the Province and CP have continued this week. How those talks are progressing is anyone’s guess as both sides have yet to release any further information.

For Pleym and Johannessen, the waiting game is a stressful one.

“There’s really nothing we can do. I feel like it’s completely out of everybody’s hands,” Pleym said.

Pleym says that his company will have to start issuing refunds should access to the Lower Canyon remain closed next week, which will mean less income for the company but also less work hours for its crew of raft guides, who are paid per section rafted.

Despite the tumultuous spring for the industry, the owners of Golden’s two largest rafting companies remain hopeful and are thankful for the community’s continued support.

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Property owners say CSRD’s offer for 10-acres bordering landfill is unfair

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) has offered to purchase a 10-acre… Continue reading

Expect delays on Highway 1 west of Golden due to vehicle fire

Expect delays while driving Highway 1 between Golden and Revelstoke. Drive BC… Continue reading

Your weekly Mountain Minute

Golden’s weekly 60-secon news recap for February 14

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could save the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Missing Surrey snowshoer caught in avalanche found dead on Vancouver mountain

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

Most Read