The lack of public recreation sites on Creston Valley rivers is about to come to an end, thanks to the vision of a local citizen and the Trails for Creston Valley Society.
The Society has negotiated the purchase of an 18.8 acre parcel to the southwest of Goat River Bridge on Highway 21, with plans to develop a public park before turning it over to the RDCK.
“Imagine, a safe place to park, to splash and play along the beautiful Goat River, to return with your kids and dogs to the beach where you grew up throwing rocks and swimming in the crystal clear water,” Mary Jayne Blackmore, president of TCVS, said on Monday. “Imagine picnic tables, parking and toilets, safe trails along the river banks to enjoy relief from the August heat and the luxury of our rural natural environment. Imagine, a safe place for our children to play rather than parking along the narrow shoulder of a busy provincial highway.”
Creating a regional park on what is now privately owned land would alleviate the contentious parking problem on Highway 21, where parked vehicles routinely create traffic congestion on hot summer days.
“Now, imagine that you are responsible for making this happen in our very own Creston Valley!” Blackmore continued. “Right now our community has a rare opportunity to purchase a beautiful treed acreage with hundreds of metres of river front access and prime swimming. Perhaps we can’t each leave our grandchildren waterfront property, but collectively we can.”
While the lack of recreational property on the water has been an age-old issue in the area, particularly since the road to the popular swimming hole known as The Point was closed several years ago, a resolution has been slow to unfold. That changed recently when outdoor enthusiast Gwen Telling noticed a For Sale sign on the property near the Goat River Bridge. She spoke with CVTS members and the idea grew (pardon the pun) like wildfire.
“These are exciting times here in the Creston Valley!” Blackmore enthused.
She said that $80,000 has already been committed by private donors, and another $100,000 is to be raised to achieve the goal. Another local family has agreed to lend the society money to close the purchase if necessary.
RDCK Directors Larry Binks and Tanya Wall have committed $5,000 in each for 2019 operating funds.
Response from CVTS members and other residents has been overwhelmingly positive, Blackmore said. Donations to the society qualify for a charitable tax credit.
“When was the last time land was acquired to ensure public use in perpetuity? This is a legacy project and our community is making it happen now! This ‘Yes we can, and yes we will build it,’ attitude and standing up for our community and the world we want to create for our families inspires me.
“Here is my challenge. I know $1,000 is a lot of money, but twenty bucks isn’t. What if you were to challenge your business, organization, church or youth group, school, or friend group to chip in some money, do a bake sale, a walk-a-thon, etc? What if we had 100 groups each donate $1000.00 and buy a plaque? We have the chance to contribute to this brilliant project and leave a legacy in our valley.”
Another CVTS member, Adam Mjolsness, adds that the park concept addresses safety concerns.
“This lot is in a location that is already heavily used by the community, he said. “The ongoing problem with this location has been the safety issue regarding parking alongside the highway. Neither the Regional District nor the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has been able to resolve the parking issue (MOTI put up “no parking” signs which are often ignored). Many people, including families with small children, have been alarmed by the unsafe conditions that currently exist: traffic driving at 80 km/h in both directions is passing vehicles parked on both sides of the highway near the narrow bridge, and pedestrians are forced into a dangerous situation alongside it all.
“This new park will feature a parking lot located a safe distance from the highway. Purchase of this land will also allow for critical infrastructure, such as toilets, picnic tables and garbage cans, to be installed and maintained. This riverside property is also special in that it does not involve clambering down a steep canyon trail, and it has shallow waters suitable for children.”
CVTS encourages larger donors to pay by cheque or money order to help avoid service fees levied by online payment services. For more information, go to www.crestonvalleytrails.ca.