The British Columbia government is providing $100,000 so the Town of Golden can move forward with a new access option after the lower canyon of the Kicking Horse River was closed to the whitewater-rafting industry, Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, announced today.
The funding is part of more than $10.1 million being awarded to 90 eligible local governments, First Nations and not-for-profit organizations under the BC Rural Dividend program.
“This funding will help Golden find a long-term solution so commercial river rafting can continue to contribute to the local economy and create jobs ― now and for the next generation,” said Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson.
In 2016, the Canadian Pacific Railway closed access to the lower Kicking Horse River. To get to the lower canyon — a popular set of rapids on the river — outfitters needed to cross over railway tracks. But the company closed off the access point, citing safety concerns before re-opening the access.
The original move angered local whitewater rafting companies, who say tourism brings up to $5.8 million annually in the community.
The town had earlier received $10,000 to study the feasibility of alternate access and will use the current funding for consultation, regulatory applications and preliminary design for the recommended option ― modification of the river channel.
The Rural Dividend program provides grants of up to $100,000 each for single applicants, and up to $500,000 for partnerships to help rural communities stabilize their economies and create long-term local employment.
The program is under review and the Province is determining how best to distribute the remaining Rural Dividend funds, taking into account the community impacts of this year's wildfire season and other exceptional circumstances.
Rural development activities support government’s commitment to building a strong, sustainable and innovative economy that creates well-paying jobs for all British Columbians.
Projects were assessed and approved based on the following criteria:
- Rural communities most in need
- Improved community resiliency and economic strength
- Partnership building and enhanced shared prosperity
- Project feasibility and sustainability
- Economic impact on rural communities
- Attracting and retaining youth
- Innovation in economic development