From Loon Lake Road – Bonaparte future at risk with Bill C-45

Barbara Hendrick's monthly column of community news and events in Loon Lake.

Highway crews scale the rock faces along Loon Lake Road to carry out scaling.

Highway crews scale the rock faces along Loon Lake Road to carry out scaling.

What silence sounds like

Some weeks ago now those residents of Loon Lake living above the canyon experienced several days when the electricity was shut off at 9 am to allow improvements on the line and to permit Ministry of Transport workers to carry out the promised scaling of rock cliffs above the road through the canyon.

Without looking at a clock I could always tell when it was 9 am because all of a sudden it was so quiet in the house; all the little sounds of small electronic devices stopped and there was silence. It was wonderful, as silence is something rarely experienced these days – even here in the country as we get more and more little electronic helpers and appliances that plug in.

Fortunately none of the neighbours felt the need to start up a generator. I dug out the old model phone that will ring even when the power is off so I still felt connected to the outside if there was a need for it.

Rocks carefully removed

The scaling work was a big task. One large column of rock overhanging the road in the canyon has been removed as a result of a lot of careful work with workers hanging from wires up above the road.

Gone are the days of placing some sticks of dynamite in a rock and then seeing what happed when the big bang is over and the dust settles. I remember that approach from the 50’s and hearing the boom and watching the dust.

In 1932 when the road was first built through the canyon by Karl and Otto Wohlleben and their sons, they could hardly afford dynamite and much of the rock was broken using hand methods and helped by horse power. Understandably only the rock that blocked passage for a team of horses and a wagon were removed at that time.

The work this year was carefully done and makes for a much safer section of road through the canyon. There will still be rocks on the road there as the sheep do continue to visit the area.

Quietly creating

This month I had the pleasure of participating in an introductory course in fusion glass making with Roz Stanton here at Loon Lake. Roz is an international known artist and her work with glass and metals is widely admired.

The course ran for a week and it was a real treat, partly because the course was offered here at Loon Lake and because Roz is such a good instructor. By the end of the weeks work I had made a dish that looks quite attractive. The sessions were sufficient to give an initial understanding to the characteristics of the glass materials we were working with and for the process of glass fusion.

Roz will be offering more courses next Spring and Summer here at Loon Lake so watch for announcements,

October 20 brought Loon Lake Road our first significant snowfall and the snow looked very attractive on the yellow leaves of the trees. This is quite late for seeing snow on the hills as we have enjoyed an extremely warm and sunny autumn up to now.

I still have late vegetables to collect from the garden which is now showing the effects of low light and short days.

River’s future at risk

The attractive natural qualities of Loon Lake Road and the Bonaparte River valley could be negatively affected in the future with the proposed changes at the federal government level where the Navigable Waters Protection Act is being replaced with a Navigation Protection Act in Bill C-45.

This new act will protect only 150 rivers and lakes across Canada (100 in Ontario, 24 in BC). All  bodies of water NOT listed, including our Loon Lake and the Bonaparte River, will no longer be protected and could  be subject to all sorts of intrusions including crossing by pipelines, power lines, mining activity and other environmentally destructive activities without any consultation with the public or any review process and ignoring traditional uses.

The scenic and natural values that we cherish at Loon Lake Road as well as use of water for agricultural purposes could be threatened. Will this valley still be a desirable place to live in the years to come when legislative tools to protect our natural water are removed?

Transfer Station hours

Just a reminder that the Loon Lake Road transfer station switches to winter hours on Nov 1 with open days on Sunday and Wednesday from 9 am to 5 pm, until March.

Barbara Hendricks