After weeks of negotiations and a rally cry that stretched across the country and around the world, the Golden rafting industry got the news they had hoped for this morning.
Canadian Pacific and local white water rafting stakeholders have agreed to a resolution to keep the Lower Canyon portion of the Kicking Horse River open.
The details of that resolution aren’t clear as of yet, but it will allow for rafting on the Lower Canyon when the rafting season begins next month.
“We are very pleased that, starting this May Long Weekend, we will have rafters floating through the heart of our community, the Kicking Horse River, following a thrilling ride through this incredible stretch of whitewater, and that we are now looking towards a long-term solution to address the access to the Lower Canyon for river users,” said Oszust. “We all agree, at the heart of all of this is safety. CP Rail is committed to safety along its rail corridor.”
The agreement from CP represents a significant turnaround from their previous stance regarding the issue, with the company stating that there was no solution that could be found as recently as last month.
Local stakeholders and CP came to the agreement at a meeting this morning.
In previous summers, rafters have had to cross railway tracks at an unmarked crossing in order to access the Lower Canyon portion of the Kicking Horse River. This portion of the river is seen as the crown jewel of Golden’s rafting industry, bringing in thousands of tourists every year.
“This has been a long and tiring battle, but we are grateful to have a resolution,” said Ryan Johannesen, owner of Glacier Rafting, one of six rafting companies to operate on the river. “It’s time to get busy for our season opening on May 21.
“We are very grateful to our community and to people from around the world who showed their interest in this incredible stretch of the river. This was always about more than just protecting a portion of our business; it was about ensuring access for all river users to a wonderful recreational opportunity.”
Public support to keep access to this portion of the river open has been immense, from local stakeholders and politicians to a letter of support from Senator Nancy Greene.
“All levels of government came together to work on this issue,” said Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski. “We all met to try to find a solution. We reached out to our contacts, and approached anyone we thought might be able to help. It was an easy story to tell, and people immediately agreed with the community of Golden that losing access to the Lower Canyon was simply not an option.”
Present at today’s meeting were representatives of two provincial ministries: The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“I have to particularly thank Minister Shirley Bond and Minister Todd Stone for their assistance to the community,” said Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald. “The level of support that we have received from these ministers and their staff has been exceptional.
“The province will be an integral part of the long-term solution in the years ahead. Their commitment to ensuring the viability of this important tourism product, and the tremendous economic benefit it brings to our region, is very clear, and for that we are grateful.”
A planned “Save the Lower Canyon” rally on April 30 will now be a celebration of the river and the industry’s importance to Golden.