Access to popular recreation site won’t be cut off

An agreement between CN and the provincial forestry ministry is in the works in order to keep the road to the Exstew recreation site open

Access to a popular recreation site off of Hwy16 west of Terrace may not be cut off after all.

There had been worries CN Rail was going to shut down the railroad crossing immediately adjacent to Hwy16 that leads to the provincial government’s Exstew recreation site after a sign erected by CN at the location earlier this year suggested the road would be cut off to the public April 1 if CN could not find someone to maintain its rail crossing.

But it now appears an agreement between the province and CN to have the crossing remain open is imminent.

“It is the ministry’s intent to manage the road from the highway to/and including the CN crossing as a Forest Service Road,” said Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) public relations official Greig Bethel via email yesterday, March 26.

CN officials said they were mainly concerned with the maintenance of the few feet leading up to the crossing, which it said was the responsibility of the province.

But the situation became complicated with the province stating that logging company Coast Tsimshian Resources (CTR), which has long had a road permit for the road that leads to logging blocks as well as the rec site, was responsible for the road maintenance, not the province.

But CTR said that while it had been minimally maintaining the road in good faith over the years, it had no active cutting permits for the area and hadn’t used the Exstew road since 2010 so it wouldn’t be entering into a formal agreement to maintain the crossing.

This led to continued discussions between CN and the province which yesterday confirmed it will maintain the portion of the road between the highway and the railroad tracks. CTR will continue to hold the road permit for the rest of the road along the Exstew river towards the recreation site.

CTR official Dave Jackson confirmed CTR will continue to maintain the road permit portion of the Exstew mainline, which includes up to the recreation site.

“CTR is pleased to hear that CN and FLNRO are developing an agreement that will allow for continued public access across the Exstew mainline rail crossing,” he said in an emailed statement.

The well-used area has one of the largest waterfalls in the province, an 11-slip camping and picnic site, and opportunities for wildlife viewing, fishing, and rock climbing. The access road is located about 25 minutes west of Terrace.

Details of the agreement, including which party would be liable or partially liable if something were to happen on the tracks at the crossing, are still under discussion.

The ministry said today costs to maintain the crossing “will vary, depending on usage, weather and season, but are expected to be reasonable based upon discussions to date”, with CN maintaining the crossing and billing the ministry.