A 67-kilometre section of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail will remain part of The Great Trail (formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail) and will be available for recreational purposes year-round.
This section of the trail has been re-designated to encompass current uses, management standards and possible future initiatives. The route’s prior designation as a recreation trail does not reflect how the trail is being used today and is not consistent with the standard of maintenance appropriate for the existing infrastructure and current uses.
The revised status is due to the route's challenging terrain, multiple uses and complex infrastructure that date back to its time as a railway. With the change, resource-road use permitting for limited industrial use of the corridor can be introduced, as well as the implementation of maintenance and management standards for the Province and forest licensees to follow that will help make the route safer for everyone who uses it.
The full 162-kilometre Columbia and Western Rail Trail corridor runs from Midway to Castlegar along the former Canadian Pacific railway line. The entire route was legally established as a recreational trail in 2011 under the Forest and Range Practices Act.
However, the 67-kilometre portion of the former rail line (from Castlegar to a former railway stop near Fife, about two kilometres north of Christina Lake) is fairly remote and features steep slopes, numerous water crossings, tunnels, bridges, steel trestles, retaining walls and large culverts. These types of infrastructure are not typically present on recreational trails and they require regular and expensive upkeep.
With this change, if a road permit is issued to a logging company, that company would be required to undertake and pay for maintenance on the section of the route covered by that permit. If log hauling is permitted, logging companies would only use it in off-peak periods and would be required to notify hikers, cyclists and other users that logging trucks may be operating on the route — using signs and road flagging.