Canadian Pacific Railway and rafting companies using the Kicking Horse River near Golden have agreed to a temporary solution, allowing the rafters access to an iconic stretch of whitewater just before the summer season begins.
For decades, rafting companies running the Kicking Horse River had accessed the river’s famed Lower Canyon by simply walking across the Canadian Pacific tracks to the put-in a practice the rail company indicated in March would no longer be allowed.
That resulted in a hue and cry from the rafting companies on river, the business community in Golden, the rafting and paddling community throughout the Kootenay region, and various municipal, regional, provincial and federal politicians. As reported in The Pioneer (April 15th), the fallout from the move extended here to the Columbia Valley, since one of the affected rafting companies Kootenay River Runners is based in Radium Hot Springs, and an Invermere-based stand-up paddleboard and kayak company, Adventure Paddle School, had been looking at the Lower Canyon as a potential site for creekboating courses.
The outcry seems to have had an effect. Canadian Pacific Railway called a meeting with the Kicking Horse River Outfitters Association (the umbrella group for the rafting companies) last week on Friday, April 22nd, saying the rafters will be able to get in the Lower Canyon this summer.
It’s great, it’s awesome, said Kootenay River Runners owner Ian Scheler. We owe a big thank you to everybody who worked hard on this all the politicians and the ordinary people who gave us support.
The exact details of how river access will work under the temporary solution have not yet been finalized.
We know they (the rafters) will be able to cross the tracks and that there will be added safety measures, we just don’t know what the fine details of those measures are yet, Tourism Golden communication co-ordinator Andy Brown told The Pioneer.
Basically, they (Canadian Pacific Railway) told use we’ll be able to raft the Lower Canyon starting for the May long weekend, and said, ‘let us go back to our office and come up with something (on the details of the safety measures), said Golden-based Glacier Raft Company owner Ryan Johanessen. It’s something short-term while we figure out something permanent, but we are all pretty happy. We had planned a massive rally (for the weekend) and that’s now turned into a celebration.
We are pleased that, starting this May long weekend, we will have rafters floating through the heart of our community, the Kicking Horse River, following a thrilling ride through this incredible stretch of whitewater, and that we are now looking toward a long-term solution to address the access to the Lower Canyon for river users, said Golden mayor Ron Oszust in a press release. We all agree at the heart of all of this is safety. Canadian Pacific Railway is committed to safety along its rail corridor.
The Victoria Day long weekend in May is typically when many of the rafting companies using the Kicking Horse River begin their season.