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

Summit Ski Hill had a delayed start to the season because of warm temperatures. Photo: Summit Ski Hill
Late season start frustrating for Nakusp ski hill

Summit Ski Hill only just opened Jan. 14

Four friends were heading to their home on Highway 6 just south of Silverton on the evening of Dec. 25, 2020, when the people in the front of the vehicle saw what looked like a “huge, man-like figure” on the side of the road. (Pixabay.com)
Possible Bigfoot sighting shocks, excites Silverton residents

‘I didn’t see the creature myself, I saw the prints’

Police were called after a man was witnessed stabbing tires with the fence post. Photo: Thanh Serious on Unsplash
Trail RCMP eport erratic man, suspicious fire and prohibited driver

Brief from the media release from the Trail and Greater District RCMP detachment

The Rossland Public Library is one of 11 beneficiaries of the annual Community Grant Funding Program. Photo: Google Maps
City of Rossland awards community grants

Rossland non-profit groups beneficiaries of over $280,000 in community grant funding

Image: Trophy Town trailer
Trophy Town trailer previews film release

Trophy Town, the story of the ‘39 and ‘61 Trail Smoke Eaters set for possible release in March

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Andre Robert won $500,000 through a Lotto Extra ticket on Dec. 23, 2020. Photo: Jeanne d’Arc Allard
Creston resident wins $500k through Lotto ticket

“I was surprised. I wasn’t sure if it was true or not.”

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Purcell Wilderness Conservancy expanded with 18 hectares of previously privately-owned land. Photo from BC Parks.
Purcell Wilderness Conservancy expanded following Provincial land acquisition

18 hectares of waterfront added to critical wildlife habitat

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Most Read