A group has formed to take a stand against proposals put forward by Trails B.C. to take away passenger vehicle access to the Kettle Valley Railway Trail above Naramata.
Keep Our KVR Accessible to All is collecting signatures to hand over to Trails B.C., who they also hope to present their side of the issue to. Gary Dicken, spokesperson for the group, said this isn’t the first time they have faced this issue, as about 10 years ago motorized users went through the same thing.
“There are lots of people that feel strongly on both sides of this issue, but the one thing we can agree on is how much we all enjoy the trails,” said Dicken. “All they have to think about is how the other side would feel if they were going to be cut off.”
Dicken said many of the motorized vehicle trail users are on the trails during the non-tourist season, and denying them that opportunity may take away from those can’t walk to the tunnels because of the distance, hunters, firewood gatherers and the disabled.
“One of the reasons people like the place so much is because we as a community have made it that way. It is our tax dollars that have put up the signs or improved the trails through volunteer work. We have made it attractive for others to use and now it seems like they want to push so we can’t use it,” said Dicken.
So far, Keep Our KVR Accessible to All has gathered over 400 signatures on their petition. Dicken said they are looking to spread the word to get more names when they host a meeting Nov. 26 at the Naramata Church Hall at 7 p.m. Already they have aligned with the 3,000 members of the B.C. Jeep Club. That group recently held a protest rally where over 50 member vehicles traversed the KVR from Kelowna to Naramata.
“We understand the goals of the Trans Canada Trail and support the concept in general, however, the KVR above Naramata is a unique area that has specific geographic limitations that prevent Trails B.C.’s non-motorized plan from being successful. We intend to fight any loss of access with all our strength and resources,” said Dicken.
Provincial trails manager John Hawkings said the group has contacted him for a meeting and he responded he would try and meet with them if he travels to the region before Christmas. He said there is no plan to proceed with any works on the trail this year and the province will continue to evaluate various aspects of access issues surrounding trails, not just in Naramata but provincially.
“The challenge with it is there has been a historical use that has not been really considered within the scope of this trail. It was purchased and dedicated by the province for non-motorized use. There has been little enforcement of that, so you have got a couple of decades of history of use and it is not really sustainable use,” said Hawkings.
He explained the premier announced in 2004 the KVR trail was a non-motorized trail and when the Trans Canada Trail was designated in 1977, it was declared non-motorized, but there is no legal mechanism in place to currently prevent it.
“The province is not interested in further investment in the trail if we cannot clarify and resolve some of these issues so our hope is we can come to an understanding in the community. I think there is general support for what we are doing, in fact, I know there is based on the feedback we have gotten,” said Hawkings.
Keep Our KVR Accessible to All is asking members of the public who wish to help their cause to visit www.KVRNaramata.com and sign the petition.