CP Rail could float solution to Kicking Horse rafting battle at Friday meeting

GOLDEN, B.C. – The mayor of Golden, B.C., hopes a battle pitting Canadian Pacific Railway against his town and several commercial river rafting companies will be water under the bridge by the weekend.

Mayor Ron Oszust says representatives of CP Rail (TSX:CP) have requested a meeting in the southeastern B.C. community this Friday.

A public outcry greeted CP’s announcement last month that it would ban guided rafting tours from crossing its tracks to reach the only point on the Kicking Horse River where rafts can be launched along the cliff-lined waterway.

That would have stopped rafting through the river’s Lower Canyon, a renowned set of rapids that draws tourists from around the world and is vital to Golden’s economy.

Norm Macdonald, who represents the provincial riding of Columbia River-Revelstoke, says CP’s position was a shock, but he says talks continued with the railway.

The rafting season on the Kicking Horse begins on May 21, and both Oszust and Macdonald are hopeful the Friday meeting will produce a quick resolution.

“This is a real win for the whole community that relies on the guests our companies bring to town,” says Ryan Johannesen, owner of Glacier Raft, one of the companies affected by CP’s decision.

“We are so grateful to our community for their support and determination to resolve this crisis,” he says. “This wasn’t just a fight for our businesses. It was a fight for access to public lands and community assets.”

Oszust says he remains confident CP would find a resolution, and that Golden and the company will work together to reduce all possible risks and ensure goods travel safety through communities.

“But that also means CP Rail has to ensure that they are supporting, not hindering, important tourism products, like the Lower Canyon, which bring significant dollars into our economy.”