Conflict continues over use of KVR Trail

Restricting the Kettle Valley Railway Trail to hiking and cycling uses will help tourism

I concur entirely with Maureen Balcaen’s comments (Western News Oct. 5) regarding the belligerent attitude of some Naramata locals at the Sept. 18 meeting.

I left the meeting early when it was becoming a gong show and did not attempt to speak on the issue. It is obvious that there is a big push by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and others to introduce motorized traffic on the Kettle Valley Railway/Trans Canada Trail. It was only after strong representation was made that the Adventurers’ Hiking Club was allowed to have a member this past spring on the working group for their trails master plan and nobody was invited from the Penticton Outdoors Club although hikers form the major stakeholder.

There were no less than four members of motorized factions, including Terry Wardrop out of Kamloops representing ATVers and Peter Sprague out of Victoria who was representing the B.C. Off Road Motorcycle Association. Again with the current problem resolution group, nobody from the hiking factions were invited on to the group while both Terry Wardrop representing ATVers and Ken Anderson of the Summerland Dirt Bike Club were invited to participate and were at the Sept. 18 meeting.

I notice that Terry Wardrop was quoted in the Western prior to the meeting stating that ATVers were not interested in the KVR except to use short sections to access other areas. This is directly the opposite of what he said at the RDOS master trails plan meetings when I heard him state several times that allowing ATVs on the KVR/TCT would bring tourism benefits to communities along the way as they liked to travel long distances and would stop over in communities if allowed to tour along the KVR/TCT.

With regards to the meeting, I heard no mention of the fact by John Hawkins that I had sent him an email from the TCT head office in Ottawa in which they stated the control of the TCT was left to each province and they knew that motorized traffic was a problem in some areas and were holding discussions on the matter and that they definitely did nor condone motorized traffic on the TCT in the summer months. Just in case someone has not been paying attention, sidewalks were added to roads to separate pedestrians and vehicles, not bring them into conflict on a narrow trail such as the KVR.

The people who were rudely asserting their ‘right’ to use their vehicles on the KVR should realize that the KVR does not start and end in Naramata, but is part of the TCT which stretches right across Canada. If they go to the pavilion in Okanagan Lake Park they will see thousands of individuals and companies mentioned on the plaques for making donations to what they understood was to be a coast-to-coast hiking and mountain biking corridor where people could get away and take vacations from motorized traffic. I doubt many of them would have made donations if they knew this dream that became a reality was going to be degraded by motorized traffic.

I have heard that there is group of eight Liberal MLAs, who are under the influence of ATV and dirt bike manufactures and organizations, pushing for motorized use of the KVR/TCT. If the current government is so desperate for votes that they are trying to appease these lobbyists, they should seriously consider that hikers and mountain bikers are, by far, the major user groups, and allowing motorized traffic on the KVR runs the risk of ruining the tourist business that brings many people to ride the KVR from the big cities, not to mention Europeans, particularly the many German mountain bike club members we have met. One group told us there is no comparable experience left like the KVR in Europe. One of them was the editor for a magazine that serves mountain bike clubs in Germany.

To access the areas around Chute Lake, for instance, that has all but been abandoned by hiking groups, there are more than adequate public roads (to Chute Lake) and the Elinor Lake forest service road to access the area above Naramata. Trying to get motorized traffic on any portion of the KVR/TCT is just the thin end of the wedge.

Brian Sutch