By Lorene Keitch

Pioneer Staff

The town of Golden is looking to bypass CP Rail in an effort to get rafters back on the Kicking Horse River.

Rafting is an economic driver in the community of Golden, a tourist-based centre much like Invermere. Rafting companies including one based in Radium Hot Springs were blocked from access to the wildly popular lower canyon by CP Rail, which stated safety concerns over crossing its railroad tracks.

The town of Golden commissioned a report to investigate alternative access options to the lower canyon of the Kicking Horse River following a lockout of the traditional access point for rafters.

The study, conducted by Stantec, included consultation with rafting industry stakeholders, CP Rail as well as provincial transportation engineers. The options presented were to modify the existing access route by either a level train crossing or overpass, modify the riverbed to remove obstacles to create conditions that would allow rafting from further up the river, or constructing an alternative highway egress point that would bypass the railroad track crossing.

They evaluated those things and attached a cost to them. The costs are high, but are extremely high with the overpass option (to build an overpass over the existing railroad track), explains town of Golden Mayor Ron Oszust.

According to Stantec, the most feasible option to investigate further is to modify the stream channel. In the report, Stantec said this option will avoid conflict with CPR operations and is associated with the greatest potential for long-term recreation and tourism benefit.

Fiscally and emotionally, it appears that this is a great solution, said Mr. Oszust. Were quite happy with the conclusions that Stantec has come to and were hopeful to get funding to get modeling so we can go through on this process.

CP Rail was asked for comment on the matter. Their response was to send The Pioneer a copy of a letter they published in June, 2016. CPs unsigned letter states that CP agreed to a short-term solution for access in exchange for protection from the added liability that may arise from any incident that might occur as a direct result of rafters accessing the tracks.

CP cannot support rafters accessing the Kicking Horse River at this location without full indemnification as it poses a significant risk to their own safety as well as the safety of CP crews and the freight they are transporting, read the letter.