Editor, The Times:
The following information regarding the CN closure of the Red Sands Crossing may be of interest to you. This closure has occurred in response to snowmobile related incidents where sledders have been found running the railways. The unregulated and uncontrolled snowmobiling activity that occurs in town, on highways, by the airport and of course on the railway, have been prime examples of why this closure is required. It is the snowmobilers who perpetuate these violations.
A meeting has been proposed to discuss tenure and property owners maintaining the right to access this crossing on the east side of the river/bridge. Our feeling is that this crossing should stay closed until legal enforcement and policy are in place for snowmobilers to follow in town and the surrounding area. Snowmobile activity continues to take place on our tenured land without consultation or concern for our operations and it’s safety.
Commercial snowmobiles must take responsibility
The following are observations taken throughout the winter, as they affect the Blue River community and our heli-ski operations.
1. Sledding through town, day and night with high pitched noises that can be heard throughout the residential area
2. Sledding on public roads
3. Sledding on the main highway through town
4. Sledding on railway tracks and crossings
5. Sledding on community groomed cross-country ski trails
6. Sledding in caribou closure areas
7. Sledding/parking on marked helicopter landing areas, indicated with 3 black markers/red flags
8. Sledding above ski groups on slopes with avalanche potential due to poor snow stability
As the case stands, snowmobile operators practice business in residential areas. These operators must be held accountable for the actions of the sledders who they make commercial gains from. Risk management, loss prevention and emergency services are not provided by these commercial operators.
Guests and staff within the community are therefore subject to the activities of sledders. The high pitched noises that howl through town prevent people within the community from maintaining regular hours of rest. The general public should not pay for emergency rescues that are foreseeable, self inflicted and preventable.
Ironically, we have not experienced any activity of this nature from Clearwater sledders or organizations.
As a principal employer in town, we directly employ up to 240 employees; many young families with children. Staff that come to the Blue River area to work, deserve the right to a peaceful and safe environment, free from the lawless actions of those who sled in the area.
A meeting for consensus on this matter is far overdue.
Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing
Blue River, B.C.