April 5, 2016

RE Kicking Horse River Outfitters Association & CP Rail Crossing near Golden, BC

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association, we submit this letter for your consideration regarding the current issue over access to the Lower Canyon of Kicking Horse River, which is going on between the Kicking Horse River Outfitters Association and CP Rail.

Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association is one of five officially recognized Regional Destination Marketing Organizations in British Columbia. We represent over 400 tourism business entities in our southeastern corner of this province. We have an eleven member Board of Directors who represent various tourism businesses from all over the region.

Tourism is very important to this community and this region. We generate approximately $13.5 billion (2012 stats) in tourism revenues each year and are looking to grow not only the revenue, but the experiences and quality of those experiences in each of our communities.

Soft adventure tourism is major draw to our region in the months of May through September and contributes towards attracting people to the ancillary businesses as well, that all benefit economically from the 40,000 (approximate) people who arrive in Golden to raft, eat, sleep and potentially add on other activities while in the area.

We have serious concerns about the impact the restriction CP is thinking of posing on the current access point to the Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River would cause for the six rafting companies in Golden, not only in visitation and revenue being impacted, but as well, loss of jobs for current employees of these companies. The trickledown effect would impact the local businesses, eateries, retail merchants, etc. in the town itself.

The tourism industry is highly competitive both nationally and globally. Many other jurisdictions in North America offer similar product. In order to remain competitive and attract people to our destination and our communities, we must have remarkable experiences, stunning vistas and an exemplary reputation with our product offerings.

The rafting companies in Golden have all of this and more. The Lower Canyon is the jewel of the rafting experience that separates what they offer from other similar companies. To lose access to this portion of the river will be devastating, not only in loss of visitation, but also as local employers, who will need less staff. The Town of Golden will also lose one of its premier products and this will impact the local economy significantly.

Our Board is not discounting the paramount importance of safety, however, considering that CP Rail and the rafting companies have been in agreement around protocols for this crossing for the last thirty years, we urge you to find a simple, cost-effective solution to continue to provide access across the railway line so that the businesses can continue to operate as they have been.

Thank you for your consideration of our request,

Thom Tischik,
Chair, Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association

cc: Minister Bond, Ministry Jobs, Tourism & Skills Training

Deputy Minister, Shannon Baskerville, Ministry Jobs, Tourism, Skills Training

Assistant Deputy Minister, Okenge YumaMorisho, Ministry Jobs, Tourism, Skills Training

Asha Bhat, Executive Director, Tourism & Creative Sectors, Economic Development Division

Marsha Walden, CEO, Destination BC

Norm MacDonald, MLA

Joanne Sweeting, Executive Director Tourism Golden

Mayor Oszust, City of Golden

Glacier Raft Company/Carmen & Ryan

Walt Judas, CEO TIABC

Wayne Stetski, MP