The struggle to keep the Lower Canyon as part of the Kicking Horse whitewater rafting experience has taken a shift, and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone has assured the community the a solution is no longer dependent on CP Rail’s co-operation.
“We’ve been working pretty hard with the Town of Golden, Area A, and the rafting community to come up with a solution to what seems to be a manufactured problem,” said Stone, who met with rafters and other officials during a trip to Golden this week.
Stone, along with Minister Shirley Bond have been advocating for a solution since access was barred this spring by CP, who owns the tracks that must be crossed to get to the river.
“The solution needs to be an infrastructure fix.”
The minister also brought money to back up his words in the form of a $45,000 investment for a feasibility study to create access to the Lower Canyon that does not require a crossing over CP property.
The Town of Golden had also applied for $10,000 from the new Rural Dividend Fund for the same purpose, creating a $55,000 budget for the study, which will get under way as soon as possible.
“We want to get a consultant on this right away…what we want is to have the report in hand by October,” said Stone. “We want a solution in place for next season…we don’t want to see the rafting companies here have to compromise another season.”
With a plan in place by the winter, the hope is that construction will begin as soon as the weather allows next spring.
“That’s actually light speed for government,” added Stone.
Five rafting companies were represented at an informal meeting with the minister on Thursday evening, and were all relieved and optimistic to hear the direction the province is taking with the issue.
Given that details of the project are yet unknown, as is the price tag, the cost sharing model is currently up in the air.
“I can’t say at this time what that will look like,” said Stone. “But the Province will be here in a big way. We will definitely be a funding partner.”
They may also be looking into federal funding opportunities.
More on the story to come.