Rescue the River

Rescue the River

CNA working to boost public access to a world-class recreational river

By John Twigg

river 1The scenic winding tree-lined Campbell River is one of the greatest recreational rivers in the world despite being only seven kilometres long but ironically local residents have only limited access to its rocky shores.

That is about to change though because the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association and other interested parties are working with the City of Campbell River on plans to restore, enhance and add new public access to it at several spots in the Campbellton business district and to add other features in the adjacent recreational and residential areas.

This year the CNA and the City teamed up for a professional study of the situation which in its preliminary report identified three places where an "overlook feature" (viewing platforms) could be installed: at the ends of Maple and Spruce streets and on the north side of the Tamarac Street bridge, all of which involve property already owned by the City as well as one major vacant piece owned by the Province near the Tamarac site.

The study also suggested the addition at Maple Street of a small parking lot, some path repairs and possibly a viewing tower on the popular Myrt Thompson Trail that runs southward from Maple Street to the estuary between the river shore and vacant but developable lands now owned by the Campbell River Indian Band.

river 2Those improvements are expected to strengthen the many recreational uses of the river such as fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, rafting, hiking, photography, bird-watching and even some swimming while of course protecting habitat for the world-renowned salmon runs. B.C. Hydro also is in the midst of taking an inventory of all those and other recreational uses.

While public attention so far has focussed on the Maple Street site, which now has some challenges with congestion and conflicting uses, the CNA's focus is shifting to the Tamarac site which CNA chair Brian Shaw and others such as longtime resident Ken Enns see as a prime spot for a "shared waters" program in which urban society is encouraged to preserve natural and wildlife values.

"This whole thing is about giving Campbell River access to the Campbell River," says CNA chair Brian Shaw, noting the sensitivity towards natural values amongst urban society is quite consistent with the legacy of outdoors writer Roderick Haig-Brown, whose historic riverside house is also in the Campbellton neighbourhood.