After meeting with the committee involved in trying to get the rail trail off highway 23 turned into a multi-use trail, the Village of Nakusp council has decided to keep the site as a walking trail.
The biggest issue in the council’s decision was safety.
There are blind corners and echo spots. Staff form the village office were out checking the trail, and a motor vehicle came along. They did eventually see it, but because of noise form the highway, they couldn’t hear it.
“We’ve had a lot of people coming in since this has been made public, and letting us know that they’ve almost been hit by a bike or by a quad,” said Karen Hamling, mayor of Nakusp.
“Several people have come in, or phoned, and said they’ve almost hit a bike or a quad coming off the trail and crossing the highway. They’re not slowing down, they’re just whipping across.”
Another issue which has come up is the trail isn’t wide enough to have both pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic on it at the same time. In some places it’s just wide enough for an ATV.
Mayor Hamling has spoken to the mayor in Castlegar, where they have a multi-use trail, However, their trail is really wide, and hits the standard size and it can be divided, half for walking, the other half for motorized vehicles.
“We’ve been looking into that and we’ve found for B.C. that there isn’t any, we haven’t been able to find any regulations pertaining to the width of the path,” said Susan Smith, a member of the committee trying to make the trail multi-use.
“We’re still looking into that, we’re doing more research.”
After being given a list of communities that have a multi-use trail, council did its research and due diligence. One community, Greenwood, does not have a multi-use trail within its boundaries. Another community, Elkford, allows motor vehicles on specific trails, but they are only to be used to get in and out of town. In the District of Tumbler Ridge, there are ATV designated areas only, but only on the outside boundaries of the district and Crown land.
In this area, there seems to be a bit of miscommunication somewhere along the line. When asked about the council’s finding, Smith was perplexed.
“I don’t know who the village people have talked to. Only one (on the list) has come back with anything different than what we have read,” she said.
Noise is another factor that was taken into consideration. Several houses are only about five to ten feet away from the trail, and have complained to councillors about the noise on the trail.
“Several of the residents that live right on the trail, they’ve said that the noise has just been horrendous, that they can’t sit out on their decks, and they can’t sleep at night,” said Hamling.
At least 276 people have signed a petition to make the trail multi-use.
“Since we handed it in on Sept. 8 I’ve had a lot of people coming to me and saying ‘Are you going to do another petition? We didn’t have a chance to sign that petition,'” said Smith.
“There’s going to be way more than 276 people who were in favour of a shared use trail.”
Hamlin said it’s not the amount of people who have signed the petition. Council has to consider the liability, safety, and well being of the community as a whole.
She said it’s obvious the committee is passionate about its request, and while council will not change the trail to one for multiple uses, it will support the efforts of the committee to find a new location for a new trail.
“Just because council has voted against, that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. People of the village have elected this council, and they’re representing them, and the council has to understand what the people want, and the people will go after what they want. It’s not finished,” Smith concluded.