Regional district buys Trout Creek property for public access to Bulkley River

Regional district buys Trout Creek property for public access to Bulkley River

The 33-hectare property 20 kilometres west of Smithers sold for $500,000

A property 20 kilometres west of Smithers that has been used off and on for public access to the Bulkley River is back in public hands.

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechacko (RDBN) announced last week it had purchased the Trout Creek property from a private owner.

Mark Fisher, RDBN director for Rural Electoral Area A (Smithers), said public access to the river at that point has been a hot button issue with area residents because the access has come and gone with various owners, as it did with the last owner.

Fisher confirmed the purchase price was $500,000, more than $100,000 less than the assessed value for the 33-hectare plot with a two-storey house and garage.

“It’s exciting,” Fisher said. “I know some people probably have some issues with government buying something like that, but it’s pretty overwhelming that people are happy.”

Not everyone is pleased, however.

Dave Anderson, who lives on a nearby property, said he found out about the sale when a sold sign went up and he talked to the person who was housesitting for the previous owner.

At the least, Anderson said, the RDBN should have consulted with taxpayers.

“I don’t know what kind of budget they run there, or how much they’re allowed to spend without any consultation, but $500 [thousand] and change is a little much, I think, when other things could be done with that money,” he said.

Anderson posed the question to Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson.

“The Local Government Act (LGA) provides regional districts with corporate powers giving the regional district board the authority to acquire and manage property,” an emailed response from Donaldson’s office stated.

Nevertheless, Anderson thinks it was an unnecessary purchase and therefore not worth it, noting that aside from a handful of guide-outfitters who need access to the property, members of the public already have access via the highway right of way.

“My stand is that there was access under current boundaries of the highway right of way on both east and west sides with plenty of parking on the west side along the old portions of Hwy 16 that are still present,” he said. “The gates not allowing the public to this area were placed on Ministry of Highways ( public) right of way, an illegal act which has been proven in a court of law from a Merrit BC judgement where the landowner placed a gate on a public road to a lake that was used for recreational fishing.”

Fisher acknowledged that the purchase came together very quickly, but that public feedback has been very positive and the acquisition aligns with the district’s long-term recreational planning. In June the RDBN released its Parks and Outdoor Recreation Study.

“We’re currently doing a lot of work around recreation in the rural areas … so, it kind of fit in perfectly with the stuff we’re doing and, just over the years, people talk about it all the time, the access, how it comes and goes,” he said, adding that once residents have had a chance to give their input, he believes the purchase will be supported.

READ MORE: RDBN to consider next steps after Parks and Outdoor Recreation Study at June 18 meeting

Fisher also noted the district was able to come up with the cash by juggling various grant funds they had available, adding they consulted with the provincial and federal governments to make sure they were supportive of the move.

Fisher said the site has huge potential. For example, there is a waterfall nearby that could be an attraction, and the house could be developed into something.

Anderson also raised concern that it may not just be the purchase price, but that there could be expensive remediation involved. He said around 30 years ago there had been a gas station and mechanic’s shop on the property and all of that, including the gas tanks, was merely covered over when the property changed hands.

Fisher said he had also heard those rumours, but the district did its due diligence.

“We did the homework and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the property,” he said.

The Interior News has been unable to confirm whether or not a gas station ever existed there.

Anderson is also worried that remediation work on Toboggan Creek that could eventually lead to a second bridge where current public access to the river exists might require modification of the property and additional burden on Rural A taxpayers.

Fisher doesn’t think that will be a problem, either.

“We did talk to the ministry of transportation about different issues to see if they have any major concerns,” he said. “There are some little ones that we’re going to be able to address. We don’t have any major concerns in terms of that stuff, but we would love to work together with the ministry of transportation to make sure [the property] meets everybody’s needs going forward.”

In any event, Fisher said there will be no additional expenditure without extensive consultation.

“For me, I’m really cautious about what it’s going to be without public buy-in,” he said. “For me, it’s access to the river and enjoyment. It’s going to help with parking, people can wander to the waterfall, but in terms of any money spent, I’m not going to support that until we really get a feel for what people are willing to contribute and really want as vision.

“It needs to be a very clear business case and it has to be done with both vision and financial contributions from the community and from user groups specifically, but there is a lot of interest.”

Use and potential development of the property will be the subject of a public consultation process that will start over the winter, Fisher said. Details are yet to be announced.

BoatingfishingOutdoors and Recreation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


The Regional District of Bulkley Nechacko announced the purchase of a 33-hectare property on Hwy 16 at Trout Creek on Aug. 14. (Contributed photo)

The Regional District of Bulkley Nechacko announced the purchase of a 33-hectare property on Hwy 16 at Trout Creek on Aug. 14. (Contributed photo)

Just Posted

The Terrace River Kings lost 9-3 to the Quesnel Kangaroos on Mar. 2, 2019 in the final CIHL playoffs. (Lindsay Chung Photo)
Central Interior Hockey League cancels 2020/21 season

League open to playing exhibition games if possible

Questions around rail safety, firefighter safety, cleanup near the rail yards and tracks, whistle cessation, etc were raised during the RDBN meeting with CN. (File photo)
Regional district frustrated with CN response to grievances

‘A lot of our concerns are still not being heard,’: Houston mayor Shane Brienen

Ski hill scheduled to open Dec. 4

Hudson Bay Mountain Resort will open without its usual contingent of international workers

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Kitimat RCMP were requesting assistance locating 24-year-old Teah Wilken, who was last seen getting on a bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23). Kitimat RCMP Facebook photo.
UPDATE: missing woman found safe at residence

Wilken last seen getting on bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23)

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”
Free ‘Hollywood Suite’ movies in December include ‘Keanussance’ titles starring Keanu Reeves

Also featured is the Israeli-made ‘Valley of Tears,’ a 10-part war drama

Most Read