In my last column I wrote about the first half of my Ride the Riding event held in the last week of August, covering the sections from Naramata to Osoyoos and Big White to Grand Forks.
From there we cycled to Christina Lake on a beautiful trail that follows the Kettle River to Cascade. It was a hot afternoon, so I decided to leave the trail at Cascade and ride the highway to Christina Lake, where I celebrated another good day with a big milkshake.
At the Christina Lake breakfast the following morning, the conversation centred around the growth of invasive plants in the lake, which has made recreation difficult at the south end of the lake.
We then (full disclosure) drove up and over the Paulson Pass and I got back on the bike to cycle over Strawberry Pass to Rossland.
After lunch with the mayor of Rossland, the new trails coordinator for the Kootenays and others, it was a quick (brakes on all the way) ride down the long steep hill into Trail.
Over coffee there I talked with constituents who wanted to discuss specific situations, such as the lack of refunds from COVID-related flight cancellations and cross-border difficulties with employees who work in Canada, but who normally live in the USA.
We drove from Trail up to Fruitvale where a large group was waiting at the Ruala Café.
There the conversation was mostly about Canadian politics, the possibility of an election and what might be in the upcoming Speech from the Throne. We talked so long that it wouldn’t have been possible to do my planned ride back to Trail and on to Castlegar (and it was very hot as well) so we drove to the Bombi summit and I enjoyed the 17-kilometre ride down to Castlegar on that scenic stretch as the mighty Columbia comes back into view.
After a pub dinner in Robson we drove up to Nakusp to be in place for the final two days of the ride.
The next morning, I cycled up to Summit Lake and down through Hills to get on the Galena Trail along Slocan Lake to New Denver, one of the most beautiful sections of the whole ride.
Conversations at a late lunch in Silverton centred around the very busy tourism summer that the Slocan Valley (and really, the entire riding) has had. As more people explore the back country of BC this summer, it’s clear we need more camping and trail infrastructure to accommodate what will likely be a permanent increase in that sort of tourism.
The single big issue in the upper Slocan was the proposal for a large wilderness adventure development at Zincton. Still in its early stages, some have compared the idea to the ill-fated Jumbo resort proposal in the East Kootenay, while others feel it might be a fitting project to provide jobs in the valley.
The big news in Slocan was the town’s purchase of the 20-acre mill site on the lakefront.
This property has been sitting vacant for years since the mill closed down, and the purchase will give the town full control over what will happen with the site.
Farther south, the talk turned to wildfires once again as we cycled by the Talbott Creek fire.
The week ended with a lunch at the Frog Peak Café in Crescent Park — the odometer showed 433 kilometres cycled between Naramata and South Slocan.
As usual, I learned a lot from residents along the way and renewed my appreciation of what a beautiful part of the world we live in.
I hope you are all enjoying this long, lingering summer.
I’ll be going to Ottawa next week so will bring you that news in my next column.
Richard Cannings is MP for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay.