CN bridge not answer for TIB

Kamloops Daily News
March 7, 2012 01:00 AM

The Tk'emlups Indian Band deserves high marks for effort when it comes to its demands for a pedestrian crossing on the CN Rail bridge between band lands and Riverside Park, but now it should drop the idea.

The problem is the safety of band members who insist on using the dangerous crossing to walk into town and back. Several of them have lost their lives on the shortcut.

This week, TIB chief Shane Gottfriedson raised the issue during a meeting with Kamloops City council, calling for a united front in convincing CN to pay for a walkway.

"I don't understand why it's so hard for it to happen," he said. "We need a political push from both of us.. We've got to use our government strength to get it solved for once and for all."

Mayor Peter Milobar suggested he and the chief sign a letter in aid of a lobbying trip to meet with CN officials.

The united-front approach has become an annual ritual when the City and band get together to renew their vows of cooperation.

A year and a half ago, after a similar discussion with Milobar, Gottfriedson was saying the idea was pretty much dead. "I don't think we're going to get anywhere with CN." They'd have to try harder.

Milobar and Gottfriedson endorsed the "united front" a year before that, too. "It's a natural foot connection," Milobar said then.

CN's position hasn't changed. It's the same this week as it has been from the start, and there's nothing unreasonable about it - for safety and liability, a rail bridge is no place for a pedestrian crossing.

It isn't CN's responsibility anyway. Though the worries about the risks people take when crossing the bridge are legitimate, it is up to the band, not the railway, to resolve the matter and pay the cost.

The band council wouldn't have this problem if it hadn't reneged on a partnership with the City to build a circular Rivers Trail on both sides of the rivers. That project could have provided the answer - the band gets a foot crossing, city residents get unencumbered use of an expanded trail system.

But some band members balked and the band council left City Hall holding the bag (after, it's worth mentioning, the City and other levels of government paid the shot for a pedestrian crossing on the Yellowhead Bridge).

If Gottfriedson really wants the matter resolved, he'll have to go back to the City and to the provincial and federal partners his predecessors left standing out in the cold on the Rivers Trail deal, and ask for a second chance.

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