Surely a company undertaking a multi-million dollar project (including millions of dollars through federal grants) involving establishing dozens of railroad tracks and moving entire hills — including a First Nations archaeological site — as well as building a vehicle underpass under the rail line can use their considerable resources and knowledge to ensure that safe pedestrian access to the Ashcroft Slough is incorporated into their massive project.
Safe, legal, feasible access options that mitigate liability for the Ashcroft Terminal (AT) exist. The consultant engineer with the working group hired by AT has stated that access to the slough is feasible. For example, The Tunneling Company can create a pedestrian tunnel under the tracks without shutting down train lines. A pedestrian overpass or a pedestrian access to simply walk across the tracks in a designated place, maintaining CNR standards, are options. All across B.C. there are safe pedestrian crossings giving access for citizens.
The AT stated “… [A]ccessing the slough from below the high-water mark, which is land not owned by Ashcroft Terminal.” Accessing the slough under the train bridge is not a viable option for many slough users, due to the required clambering over large, sharp rocks and climbing up a steep, loose incline. Additionally, the high water blocks access for most of the summer.
Every day, people use the slough for safe river access, adding up to thousands of visits per year: families out for a nature walk, anglers pulling in their prized catch, young and old cooling down in a variety of swimming pools, friends walking their dogs, artists inspired by the extraordinary scenery, animal spotters watching for herons or mountain sheep, foragers berry picking, all against the backdrop of stunning cliffs. The petition for safe access — which quickly gained immense support with over 700 signatures — is another confirmation that access is vitally important. The Ashcroft Slough has been a treasured location for generations of locals as well as centuries of First Nations people. Implying that people aren’t using the slough is a disingenuous representation.
The Ashcroft Slough is ecologically unique to our community, and there is no substitute. The Working Group does have options for access on the table. We request the Ashcroft Terminal to be good corporate citizens for our community and for future generations by reinstating safe access to the slough. Economic expansion does not have to exclude community well-being.
Faline Franes, Dora Winwood, Susan McLean
These are unusual times. As everyone knows, we have been advised by our senior Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, as well as Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix, on a daily basis, about the precautions we should take to protect ourselves and others from the deadly coronavirus.
The elderly are at particular risk, especially those whose health has been compromised by COPD, diabetes, and other conditions. I am approaching my 90th birthday. About a year and a half ago, I suffered a virus attack. The symptoms were very much like the COVID-19 virus: coughing uncontrollably day and night for weeks, nausea at the very sight or mention of food (an incredible condition for this food lover). I finally ended up in the ER and was put on oxygen. It took a good three months for me to recover from this. So I write from experience, without the slightest intention to offend anyone.
Masks have now become mandatory in many public areas. Care aides, nurses, dentists, and medical doctors wear masks. The care aides who see to me wear gloves also, and their care is something I’m terribly grateful for. I know how inconvenient all this is for them. Their patience and kindness is not something taken for granted.
Though the incidence of COVID-19 in this region has been relatively low, it is foolish indeed to remain unaware of the threat to human health this deadly virus is. Little is known still about the source of it, though speculation is endless. But we know that the very air we breath can contain invisible droplets that can affect us. I must have picked up my virus from somewhere. I live in a seniors’ apartment facility, and because of osteoarthritis, mobility is far from what it was even two years ago.
Yes, I’m a feisty old woman. But I’m a woman with a long professional history, and I have served my communities over the years in various capacities. I urge you all to remain vigilant and protect yourselves.