Opinion

Don't let Exstew set a precedent

A lot of people who live on the North Coast do so because of the amazing access to outdoor recreation.

Aside from having the harbour at your doorstep, people living in Prince Rupert never have to drive far to access nature and all the opportunities that come with it — camping, ATVing, fishing, swimming, off-roading and so on and so on. A big part of that access is being able to drive along forest service roads and get away from life in the city to a more peaceful, natural setting.

Growing up in Kitimat, I always enjoyed hitting the backroads in the valley to get away with friends. Over time, however, a lot of the roads less travelled became deactivated and in a lot of cases that meant holes deep enough and wide enough that attempting to cross in the truck seemed a fool's errand.

But those were the roads less travelled, the roads that didn't really lead anywhere. I never once saw a forestry road that led to a campground or well-used hiking trail taken out of commission. a

Now, between CN Rail, Coast Tsimshian Resources and the provincial government, losing a popular recreation site for people from throughout the region seems a very real possibility. If nobody steps forward to claim responsibility for the road leading to the campground, including the rail crossing, CN will likely put up a gate to protect their company.

The thing about it is that these companies have every right to restrict access to the road just as the Prince Rupert Port Authority has the right to restrict access to Ridley Island — another popular recreation site that was put out-of-bounds when industrial growth became a reality.

In this case there is still time before April 1 to make your concerns known about this plan and put pressure on the companies and government to rethink their plan.

If CN can close off access to Exstew, think of all the other areas they can shut down as well.

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