By Lorene Keitch
The restricted speed zone on the Columbia River just makes sense. Passed less than a year ago, this is the first summer for the new, 20-horsepower limit zone on the main stem of the river. So far, it looks like people are, for the most part, obeying the limits.
Most people agree with the restriction. According to Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski at the time of the passing last October, written comments received by Transport Canada during the public consultation period were “overwhelmingly in favour” of the 20-horsepower regulation.
There are a myriad of reasons to have the limit in place. The protection of our wetlands is the number one reason, with this jewel of the Columbia River in our hands to preserve for future generations. Wildsight calls them “one of the world’s living treasures,” with 216 animal species, including hundreds of thousands of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
For the residents nearby the wetlands, it’s also a matter of enjoyment, to not have to listen to the roar of boats and jetskis by their homes all summer long.
But for users of the river like me, the main reason I like the limit is because of the safety it ensures for those who want to enjoy the water at a leisurely pace.
My family has canoed and floated on the Columbia River in Fairmont many times. Each time, it has been fun for all, especially when we tube down on a hot summer’s day. Knowing that my children will not be run over or plowed with a wake of a fast-moving boat means we can enjoy the float in peace.
It is probably one of my favourite Columbia Valley activities. The views are stunning and the river, whether fast in early season or slow later on, is relaxing.
And we are not the only ones. We went last weekend and there must have been 30 cars parked alongside the pull-out spot on River Drive. We hung out at the pull-out and in the short time we were there, there were about 10 other large groups that came through.
This treasure of the valley is best enjoyed at a slower, people-powered pace, no horsepower needed.