The decision to fence off access to the Columbia Flats near the Revelstoke Airport is problematic in many ways – the main one being the lack of consultation with local stakeholders.
Does it need to be said that residents don’t want to trade off their natural recreation spaces so that private airplane and jet owners can have a theoretically safer landing?
It was clear from a Columbia-Shuswap Regional District media release announcing the decision that controversy was anticipated. If this was the case, then why not set up community meetings to discuss the issues? The dialogue that should have taken place in these kind of meetings is already turning up more creative solutions than just banning everyone from the area.
What about fines for entering the airport zone? How about cheaper fences? What will the impact be on this wildlife corridor? What about the impact it will have on those who use the area to recreate on a regular basis? Does it even mesh with the City of Revelstoke’s new bridge and trails network plan? -- after all, the creation of the Illecillewaet pedestrian bridge now makes this route a viable alternative to Airport Way for cyclists for several months of the year.
Although the CSRD made the announcement, they shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame for the lack of consultation. The City of Revelstoke also has a representative on the Airport Committee. The airport and land surrounding it is a patchwork of jurisdiction shared by the two. The remaining representatives on that committee are ‘airport’ interests. It sounds a lot like the committee should invite more representatives from the surrounding neighbourhood to have their say. Perhaps better ‘solutions’ could be found with more input.
At the Revelstoke end of the Columbia Flats, the city has completed the Illecillewaet Pedestrian Bridge. No doubt many more cyclists and recreationalists will now use the bridge to access areas south of the river for walking, fishing, dog-walking, bird watching, cycling and more. The trail heading south along the old railway line is just another relatively well-kept Revelstoke secret that is soon to be well-known now that the pedestrian bridge is there. So, what’s the plan for dealing with this influx of people to this environmentally-sensitive area? We’ve heard of the proposed trails network, but haven’t seen much in the way of details.
The snow is melting. Now is a good time to meet these issues head on and develop responsible rules and guidelines for using this beautiful and delicate area.