Letters to the Editor: June 2

A shocking comment about a fallen soldier; The Bootleg Trails Project.

A Shocking Comment

After the fundraising cribbage tournament at the Cranbrook Royal Canadian Legion Branch #24 on Sunday 24 May 2015 I have been prompted by friends and family to write this letter.

I am a proud born and raised in Canada citizen.  I have always felt a closeness and a connection to the Royal Canadian Legion wherever I have lived.  My Uncle Adolph, also a proud Canadian, was killed in World War I.

During the crib tournament I was seated where I could see the uniforms on display.  This made me comment to our table “My Uncle Adolph was killed in WWI and I have a picture of him in uniform on my wall”

The reply from the opposing player left me speechless and shocked.  Speaking loudly she said “I suppose your uncle’s name was Adolph Hitler,” followed by raucous laughter from her and stares and silence from the rest of us.

In retrospect I should have walked out — but out of respect for the Royal Canadian Legion I didn’t.  This incident causes me to wonder how this person can justify making a joke of my Uncle’s life for his, her and our country?

I am and will remain a proud Canadian and I am also very proud of my Uncle’s contribution of his life for Canada — in spite of his loss of life being a joke for some people.  My feelings toward The Royal Canadian Legion have changed as apparently the feelings toward our fallen soldiers who gave the supreme sacrifice have also changed.

Dale Nilson/Cranbrook

Bootleg Trails Project

It was disappointing to see the headline regarding the City’s acceptance of the Bootleg Trail project. With their approval of trails in the Matthew Creek watershed, it will only be a matter of time before the Bootleg Mountain trails become a reality.

A few years ago a group of extreme mountain bike enthusiasts took it upon themselves to build trails all over this mountain without proper authority to do so. Junk wood was hauled in to this area in order to build jumps, ramps, etc. Boards with protruding nails were left lying around. Unused material is still there today, as are the rotting remnants of the jumps and ramps. Unauthorized trails also exist all over the Kimberley Creek area.

One of these trails — the “Pinch and Roll” — exiting onto the Bootleg Mountain Forest Service road, is advertised on the internet as a black diamond mountain bike trail, open to the public since 2013, from May to October. How this came to be an advertised public use trail is a mystery, as to my knowledge it is not a legally recognized trail sanctioned by the Ministry of Lands, Forests, and Natural Resources (MLFNRO).

Some of these biking enthusiasts became members of the Kimberley Trails Society. In November of 2014, two members of the KTS and proponents for The Bootleg Mountain Trail Proposal came forward with an application to tenure most of the south facing slope of Bootleg Mountain in order to build mountain bike trails. The proponents were to appear before the Advisory Committee with their application before the application went onto the RDEK Board for approval. The proponents did not make an appearance at that meeting so a decision on the application was postponed until the next monthly meeting. In the meantime, the MLFNRO passed a 30 day time limit on applications such as this. The application went on to the RDEK and was passed, before the Advisory Committee had a chance to make any kind of recommendation on it.

At the time when talks between the City, Watershed Committee, KTS, and the MLFNRO were proceeding I asked the City if a couple of representatives from the St. Mary Community could attend, since it involved our area. I was told one person could attend this particular meeting in an “observer capacity only,” and received no answer from the City when a request was made for a representative to be in attendance at further talks. Democracy at it’s best.

The proposed tenure is a watershed area for residents living at the foot of the mountain. We have no watershed protection and depend on the water coming from that mountain for our household usage. The logging industry has clear cut some large areas on that slope over the years, and may have plans for future logging. The area is also heavily used by the public.

Future plans for bike races such as the” Enduro Race” will put hundreds of people into this area with resulting erosion, invasive weed infestations, fire issues, vandalism, loss of wildlife habitat, and also the danger of more frequent animal encounters, in most cases to the detriment of the animal.

Construction of downhill bike trails amounts to approximately 3 times the cost of traditional hiking trails or about $30,000 per every 2 km. of trail. Bike trails have to be groomed more meticulously because branches or bushes on the side of the trail can be dangerous to riders. Maintenance costs are ongoing. Tax payers will be bearing the brunt of these expenses unless the income from these ventures offset these expenses. Or, will any profits realized go into the hands of the organizers? The rate of return is only as good as the economy and the weather, as the preponderance of ski hills and golf courses can attest to.

The downhill trails are more or less limited to bike use only because of extreme safety concerns with regard to other users on trails at the same time.

Unfortunately this seems like a backdoor way to obtain a Licence of Occupation, and in my opinion presumptuous and selfish when something as important as a watershed is involved. It is a no-brainer, that in this time of climate change we should all be making a concerted effort to see to the preservation of watershed areas, not exploiting them.

Cheryl and Gordon Olsen/St. Mary Lake Rd