Kat Enns: Castlegar waterfront trail ‘visioning’ process pits people against each other

Chelsea Novak’s article on the “Shape Your Waterfront” sessions held by the City of Castlegar mentions that waterfront property owners were a voice of dissent regarding a 12 km bicycle path from Zuckerberg Island to Blueberry.

Lanarc Consultants “Visioning Exercise” is incomplete, but any formal trail would have to be perched above flood line and have a compacted surface. This puts the trail on deeded property/riparian rights areas of the upland property owners in many sections of the trail. Also, Lanarcs mapping showed city-owned strips of land adjacent to private lots developed as access to picnic sites or lookouts.

Many of us are opposed to the loss of our wild riverfront, and the disturbance of the quiet backwater used by birds. But we also fear for the integrity of the river bank to the south. A road engineer has told me it would have to be constructed using retaining walls in order to be stable. Thurber Consultants (1981) mapped the terrain and slope stability of the river bank. Dr. Leslie Anderton (2017), summarizes the mapping;” Any disturbance of the slopes … will inevitably lead to sloughing and dry ravel, which at best is unsightly and difficult to mitigate, and at worst will lead to recession of the slope and loss of flat land at the edge (top) of the terrace.”

While we understand and respect the city’s need to undertake public consultation for their Official Community Plan, we feel the process pits people against each other. We were told before the Visioning workshop that it was premature for the City to meet with us, and for us to meet with each other, and yet we know we must be consulted, eventually.

The previous Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (Urban Systems, 2008) concluded that “…Due to cost, property acquisition, and constructability issues, the riverfront trail in its entirety will not be included within the prioritized projects described by Pedestrian and Bike Master Plan.” A phased approach to the bike path was still outlined in the 2008 report, despite this conclusion.

It’s hard to know where to start with the negative aspects that affect us every day when trails cross our property. The city, to their credit, removed at least one illegal trail recently. But use continues and with access comes risk. Campfires and discarded cigarette butts have been a source of concern to many waterfront property owners. Dogs and noise also are problems.

The western shore is prime wildlife habitat. Liability insurance will be costly, and taxpayers will eventually pay for it.

The total taxation price of an environmental impact assessment, construction, maintenance and access development could be in the millions.

This is not something the Columbia Basin Trust can fund. Or that volunteers should build.

We have roads with no sidewalks.

We have old water pipes and infrastructural problems looming.

There are existing trails in waterfront locations at Millenium, Zuckerberg, Selkirk, Waldie and Brilliant, all of them in need of work. Can we deal with those issues first?

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