British Columbia

B.C. village wants access to wetland restored

For years, residents of Ashcroft, B.C. have been going to a backwater on the Thompson River for all sorts of recreational activities, even though it currently involves trespassing on land owned by the operator of an inland dry port known as the Ashcroft Terminal.

Part of the road leading to the Ashcroft Slough is cut off by a private inland railway port

The Ashcroft Slough near Barnes Creek on the Thompson River is a favourite spot for many swimmers and wildlife enthusiasts, but access to it has been cut off by Ashcroft Terminal. (Ashcroft Slough Society)

For years, residents of Ashcroft, B.C. have been going to a backwater on the Thompson River for all sorts of recreational activities, even though it currently involves trespassing on land owned by the operator of an inland dry port known as the Ashcroft Terminal.

Now, a number of them are fighting to regain legal access.

The Ashcroft Slough — located about four kilometres northeast of the village — was a First Nations' fishing area well before the establishment of the village, according to community advocacy group the Ashcroft Slough Society.

Today, it's a favourite place for local swimmers and wildlife enthusiasts. But Ashcroft Terminal says the slough is on 300-plus hectares of its land.

The company is a major inland transloading and container storage distribution centre that serves the main lines of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways. 

Ashcroft Terminal purchased the riverfront land two decades ago and has been expanding its footprint ever since. 

Ashcroft Terminal's land, highlighted in green, cuts off part of Evans Road, the only way to get to the slough, which the company says is part of its property. (Submitted by Ashcroft Terminal)

The Ashcroft Slough Society sees Evans Road as a public right-of-way going through private land.

"There used to be three access points along that road [to the slough]," society spokesperson Daniel Collett told Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

One of the access points is the Ashcroft Terminal entrance, where a gate was installed this spring to restrict public access to the section of the road leading to the slough.

The terminal says it has plans for the area.

"That area down in that zone is all being reconstructed and it's going to be a large railyard," said company spokesperson Kleo Landucci.

The company has invited the society to join its working group. It says it wants to support recreational facilities outside of its property — including enhanced walking trails and enhanced access to the river at a location other than the slough — as alternatives to continued access to the wetland.

But Collett says that's not what the residents want and the society is considering going to court.

The Ashcroft Slough Society says the backwater has been a fishing place for First Nations well before the village of Ashcroft was founded. (Nash Wiens)

 

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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