As long time riverfront residents of Castlegar. we enjoy being close to nature, the fact wildlife regularly visits our riverfront yard, and listening to birdsong every morning.
We have not “turned our back on the river,” we have embraced the river and paid a premium for the privilege.
Unfortunately, we find it necessary to express our concerns regarding the Columbia Riverfront Trail (CRT) through a letter to the editor. Many people have told us that sending letters to the City is ineffective and are not read by Council. This is supported by the three emails we sent to the city regarding the Woodland Park rail crossing and needed repairs. No response has been received.
We first learned of Councils plans for a CRT from the Castlegar News Council Briefs that stated: “Council has begun development of a Columbia Riverfront Trails Master Plan.”
Then on the City of Castlegar website we found Report to Council No. 17-66 dated April 25, 2017. The report title is “Columbia Riverfront Trails Master Plan.”
This information would lead any reasonable person to conclude that Council was investigating and promoting the idea of a CRT. A trail about which, to my knowledge, none of the landowners affected have been informed.
The article about the closely structured and directed Visioning Meeting held on June 15, quoted Deb McIntosh saying “Well, I think what happens is [that] when you take a little bit of information and then you expand upon it then misinformation gets spread.” She missed the source of the “misinformation;” the above mentioned Castlegar News Council Briefs and the Report to Council.
It seems that someone in the city is providing the misinformation or has decided to change the topic.
In February 2008, Urban Systems provided a Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan to Council, the plan recommendations regarding a CRT state: “The foremost issue with implementing a riverfront trail would be private property acquisition as this would be a costly endeavour. Constructibility is also a key issue as the topography of riverfront land within Castlegar can consist of steep grades. Due to cost, property acquisition, and constructibility issues, the riverfront trail in its entirety will not be included within the prioritized projects described by Pedestrian and Bike Master Plan.”
A second study by Thurber associates appears to confirm these recommendations.
The Official Community Plan recognizes the issues with steep slopes in section 18.4 Hazardous Area Policies which states: “the following areas are designated as hazardous: steep slopes, with grades in excess of 30 per cent.”
Based on this all of the proposed CRT would be constructed in a Hazardous Area by the city’s own definition.
Since council is now indicating the current project was never meant to include a CRT we ask that council move and pass a motion that the CRT be removed from the OCP.
By leaving the suggestion of a CRT in the OCP the City of Castlegar is encouraging some to inadvertently break the law by constructing rough trails in anticipation of the city’s plans.
We also request the funds assigned for a CRT be used to correct the many infrastructure issues currently requiring attention; like rail crossings, flood controls without a parcel tax, garbage collection on existing trails, and patrols on existing trails and the riverfront to control unauthorized fires, use by trail bikes, partying, etc.
Dana and Anne Peterson