The Columbia and Western Rail Trail connects Midway to Castlegar. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

The Columbia and Western Rail Trail connects Midway to Castlegar. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

67 kilometres of Columbia and Western Trail reclassified as ‘resource road’

The province is reclassifying the stretch between Fife and Castlegar as a resource road

B.C. is removing the “recreational trail” designation from a 67-kilometre stretch of the Columbia and Western Trail between Fife and Castlegar, saying that maintenance along that corridor is best left to logging companies who use the rail grade as an access route to cut blocks. The change reclassifies the stretch as a resource road, opening the way to logging trucks.

“With this change, if a road permit is issued to a logging company, that company would be required to undertake and pay for maintenance on the section of the route covered by that permit,” the province said in a July 16 release, which pointed to “challenging” features along the corridor including trestles, culverts and terrain that the province says are difficult to maintain under the current structure.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said in an email that 20 of the 67 kilometres are currently under road permits with companies, with another six kilometres likely to be added. The remainder, they said, would remain “non-status for the time being.” Where road permits are in place, the permit holder owns liability, the spokesperson said. Elsewhere, liability falls to the Crown.

“It’s about getting some proper funding streams in place to maintain the infrastructure,” said Columbia and Western Trail Society president Jeremy Nelson, who welcomes the change. By permitting resource activity such as logging along the corridor, the route will be now be subject to management and maintenance standards for resource roads in the province.

Last summer, the province launched a public consultation process to help determine whether or not to remove the trail’s recreation designation. “Currently, there is significant use of the rail grade by on-highway vehicles by both public and industry,” noted a letter sent to user groups by Recreation Sites and Trails BC director John Hawkings last August. “The Ministry is proposing the administrative transfer to ensure management is appropriate to current use.”

Opponents of the shift from recreation trail to resource road last summer pointed to a lack of sustained provincial funding for the change. Ciel Sander, a Greenwood resident and president of the Trails Society of BC, said at the time that a commitment for funding and maintenance needed to come from higher up in order to lean into the Great Trail vision for B.C., (formerly the Trans-Canada Trail).

The full 162-kilometre Columbia and Western Rail Trail corridor runs from Midway to Castlegar along the former Canadian Pacific railway line. The entire route was legally established as a recreational trail in 2011 under the Forest and Range Practices Act.

Money for maintenance

Logging companies such as Interfor have already been permitted to use the corridor, and were active on the trail this past winter too, hauling timber and repairing damaged infrastructure. In January, Interfor Woodlands Manager Geoff Bekker told Black Press that the company had replaced a crumbling culvert along the route, costing the company more than $100,000.

“It was clearly collapsing, everybody agreed it was, and so when fixed it. That’s one of the arguments that we have for using the rail grade,” Bekker said at the time, noting that the companies who use the corridor have a practical interest in seeing it maintained. He also added that without access to it, Interfor would have to develop other routes to access its tenure adjacent to the trail.

“If you have an existing linear structure that can service as a road, why would you want to not use that and build a parallel structure right next to it, with all the environmental issues that come with building more roads?” he said.

Bekker also said at the time that Interfor would look to use the rail grade outside of peak-use periods, in line with what the province is asking under the new designation. “We feel strongly that you can do multi-use on that rail grade,” he said. “I know we’re certainly willing to work with timing – not be out there when the bicycle folks are out there using it or hikers or whoever using it, and using it for the appropriate time for for harvesting and using it as a road structure.”

More to come.

Read more:

West Kootenay trail designation sparks debate

National trail group decries province’s plans for West Kootenay trail

Grizzly bears spotted along the Columbia and Western Trail near Castlegar


@jensenedw
Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

RecreationTrails

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The view from the Columbia and Western Trail above Christina Lake. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

The view from the Columbia and Western Trail above Christina Lake. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Just Posted

Caroline Lafond is a Recreation Fish and Wildlife student at Selkirk College. Photo: Submitted
Ecological Comment: Help keep the goats of Gimli wild

A column written by Recreation Fish and Wildlife students at Selkirk College

Rossland council encourages everyone to support locals only recommendations. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Rossland council promotes ‘Locals Only’ inititative

Rossland mayor encourages people to restrict travel and enjoy what your home has to offer

The Selkirk Challengers at a recent class. Photo: Submitted
Two Castlegar sports groups receive provincial funding

28 sports groups across the Kootenay will be receiving money from the Local Sport Relief Fund

Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union president Andy Davidoff. Photo: Jennifer Small
An open letter to Premier Horgan and Minister Whiteside: Let’s stop harming our children during a pandemic

A letter from Andrew Davidoff, President Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read