Definitely a work in progress. That was the appearance of the rutted, rock-strewn road built by BC Hydro to access the Illecillewaet River for dredging in March and April.
Until about a week ago, when Hydro covered the dirt road with a spray coating of hydroseed – the green mixture of grass seed mix and fertilizer you see sprayed on industrial landscaping projects. There, finished, said the green coating.
You have to walk through the rough road to get to the gravel trail leading to the Mark Kingsbury Memorial Bridge. The roadway winds through the greenbelt down to the river. It’s covered in ruts and rough edges, with cantaloupe-sized rocks scattered here and there at its edges.
‘That’s it?‘ was the reaction of one passer-by to the bulldozer trail through the Illecillewaet Greenbelt, a recreation and conservation area popular with walkers, runners, bikers, naturalists and the dog crowd.
Jennifer Walker-Larsen is the BC Hydro spokesperson for the Revelstoke area.
In an email responding to Times Review questions about the aftermath, she confirmed that BC Hydro’s contractor is in fact done.
“The site restoration work has been completed including the permanent access route to the river from the Illecillewaet River dyke,” she wrote in an April 16 email. “The access route was scarified with heavy equipment to reduce ground compaction and prepare the site for planting.”
She said the hydroseed mix would prevent weed colonization and erosion.
“Right now the site is rough due to the scarification. It will flatten out naturally over time as it regrows.”
Walker-Larsen explained the road was a “permanent access route” that has been used for previous dredging projects by BC Hydro, the forests ministry and the City of Revelstoke.
Update: Sunday, April 21, 1:30 p.m.
Illecillewaet Greenbelt Society treasurer Don Pegues said society members aren’t happy with the result of the clean-up.
“It was quite upsetting. It needs a bit of loving,” Pegues told the Times Review. “Hydro should be looking after this. We had trails down there you could push a chariot along them quite nicely. Now it’s just a rock garden.”
The local conservation group manages a 22-acre parcel located near the Mark Kingsbury Memorial Bridge. They maintain the walking trails to create a conservation-based natural park setting.
Pegues said society members did a site tour with BC Hydro and City of Revelstoke representatives before the dredging started, and had an expectation things would be sorted out better once it was done.
“My assumption was Hydro was going to come through and make it look pretty. And they didn’t,” he said.
He said he got the impression BC Hydro was “walking away” from the project. “They’re not trying to do anything to rehab the trails down there.”
He disagreed with the BC Hydro spokesperson’s view that the trail would heal over time. He also said high reservoir levels this summer might undo some of the remediation work when newly-seeded areas are flooded.
Pegues said a BC Hydro biologist would be attending an upcoming Illecillewaet Greenbelt Society board meeting, where they’d lay out their requests.
He said it wouldn’t take much; a five-person crew with hand tools and gravel making the trails useable again.
Do you use the area to walk, jog or wheel around that area? What do you think of the site clean-up following the dredging work? Give the Times Review a call at 250-837-4667 or leave a comment below.