Stetski continues to fight for Golden rafters


Yesterday in Parliament Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski continued his efforts to support the tourism industry in Golden, rallying MP’s from across the country to support an NDP private Member’s Bill that would give the Minister of Transport the power to help end the dispute between the Golden whitewater rafting industry and CP Rail.

 “The Government is hiding behind obsolete regulation “said Stetski . “This bill would give the minister the power to create safe railway crossings, not just in Golden, but everywhere across the country where there is a need.  I think it is a no-brainer that all MP’s should support this bill.”  

 Stetski  was speaking in support of Bill C-322, introduced into the House of Commons by NDP MP Helene Laverdiere from Laurier-Sainte-Marie in Montreal, that would  grant the Minister of Transport the powers to require the construction of a level crossing on a rail line.

“Canadians, including individuals and businesses, have demonstrated that they sometimes have legitimate requirements to cross railways at locations other than road crossings. But the rail companies refuse to allow the crossings – and they refuse to make them safe.

This is especially true where rail lines run along rivers and lakes. In order to reach the waterway, people are sometimes given the choice between taking an extremely long detour or crossing the tracks illegally and unsafely.”

 Stetski went on to describe to parliament the situation that is ongoing along the Kicking Horse River.

 “Every summer, as many as 40,000 people, assisted by a number of successful companies, load onto rafts to challenge the rapids.

The sport brings valuable eco-tourism dollars into Golden, and provides dozens of jobs, particularly for our youth.

To get to the water, rafting companies carefully led groups across the railway tracks to the Lower Canyon. They’ve been doing so for over 40 years without a single accident.

But last year, CPR told them their activity was illegal and stopped rafters from crossing the tracks, citing safety.

And there’s nothing the federal or provincial governments can do about it.

Until now.  Bill C-322 will allow the Minister to order CP and other railways to create safe crossings in special situations like this. If rail companies are concerned about safety, the solution isn’t to ban crossings; it’s to make them safe.

Providing safe access to Canada’s rivers and lakes across railway tracks surely should be a fundamental right for every Canadian.”

 Watch Stetski’s full speech in support of C-322 here: