CP, Golden reach deal in dispute over rafting
Rafters will tackle the whitewater rapids on the Kicking Horse River again this summer after a deal was struck with Canadian Pacific.
“I’m super pleased to say we found a solution. I’m so pleased there will be rafting on the iconic Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River beginning on the May long weekend,” Golden Mayor Ron Oszust said following a closed meeting Friday with representatives from Canadian Pacific, rafting companies and local and provincial governments.
Canadian Pacific told the six area rafting companies in March they would no longer be able to access the river by walking across train tracks on CP land. It is the only place where rafters could get to the river in that stretch because of the steepness of the canyon walls. Rafting companies have been crossing the tracks there for 40 years but CP had safety concerns with it continuing.
“Paramount for all of us, safety was at the root of this for all of us,” Oszust said. “With this, their safety needs have been addressed as well as the community needs addressed.”
Both Oszust and Carmen Narancsik of Glacier Rafting said details still must be hammered out, but CP agreed at the meeting Friday to allow continued access to the Lower Canyon for the 2016 season and until a long-term solution is found.
“There will be new measures in place and we don’t have details, but (CP) are going to work with us and we should hear back in a couple of days on a concrete plan,” Narancsik said.
Glacier Rafting owner Ryan Johannesen is happy to begin focusing on the busy season ahead instead of on the dispute.
“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.”
Access to the Lower Canyon is key to the town’s economic success. Renowned for impressive rapids that range from Class III to V, the Kicking Horse River attracts 40,000 rafters every year. After CP announced the restriction in March, the community reacted with an online petition of more than 7,000 signatures, a Facebook page and letter-writing campaigns to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau. Local MLAs and MPs also became involved.
“The province will be an integral part of the long-term solution in the years ahead,” Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald said.