Salmon Point trail should remain open to the public – letter

LETTERS

Re: Salmon Point Trail users survey

I am happy to see the Strathcona Regional District (SRD – www.srd.ca) undertaking a users survey on this major attraction to the Campbell River area. This letter supplements my completed and previously submitted survey, since the format of the survey is short and lacks the depth that I think it deserves.

RELATED: SRD wants feedback on Salmon Point trail

Please excuse my personal passion, but I have used this trail (commonly known by locals as the “Pub to Pub” Trail) almost daily since 1994 and I credit it for saving my life! My cardiologist in Victoria, who stress tested me annually on a treadmill (after I developed a life threatening heart condition in 1994) repeatedly told me, “whatever you are doing, keep it up, since you are now doing 150 per cent better than the general population of your age bracket.” I am sure that I am not the only user of the trail whose health has benefitted substantially, whether he/she is aware of it or not.

The trail (and its surroundings) is a priceless jewel for the community as well as for regularly-visiting long and short term tourists and visitors from all over the world. It benefits not only humans (hikers, fitness enthusiasts, dog walkers, nature lovers, photographers, fishermen, etc.), but also migrating birds (masses of geese, cormorants, ducks, swans, etc.), wildlife (deer, bear, etc.) and fish (salmon, whales, dolphins, herring, etc.).

Unfortunately, few people know that the Salmon Point Marina was created by excavation and the dredgings from it were used to fill (partially) the natural holding bay at the north end of the trail that was previously used by fish before entering the Oyster River for spawning. A berm was also created that blocks tidal water from entering the holding bay. The present low lying, filled area impedes access to the trail during the rainy season, especially during high tide periods.

As well, the benefit to great masses of migrating birds of the Woodhus Slough wetlands along the trail was previously recognized with a bronze plaque prominently displayed on a concrete monument about midway along the trail. The removal of the plaque (presumably by the present owners of the property) speaks for itself.

It is commonly believed that the land along the trail was donated to the University of British Columbia (UBC) by a wealthy individual, who presumably intended to benefit wildlife and humans (for educational purposes to students, for enjoyment, etc.) in perpetuity, but with a provision for sale in future. Unfortunately, UBC chose to sell this priceless piece of property. There was no stampede of buyers.

Also unfortunately, the SRD did not have the foresight to acquire the land for the obvious long term benefit to the public. Selecting and developing an appropriate, choice portion of this property for public benefit and, if necessary, selling part of the land at a profit would have been the logical, intelligent decision to have been made. Instead, a clever private individual scooped up the property at a bargain price. As a result, the continuously-increasing number of users of the trail have become quite concerned about losing the use of the trail to repeatedly-rumored development plans of the present owner. This should never happen. Instead, the morally-correct thing for the present owner to do is to show the same integrity and foresight as did the original owner/donor, in planning for the future of this invaluable property.

It would be a deserved honour to the original donor to have the trail named after him. At present, no one even seems to know who he was. Perhaps he wanted to remain anonymous, which would be another embellishment of his integrity.

With reference to improving the trail, maintaining continuous access to the trail is the most essential requirement at both the north, as well as the south, entrances. Adequate parking space at these locations is also needed. Moreover, a problem exists during the highest tides in December at the north gate of the fenced property of the old UBC farm. At that time of year, trail users are obliged to climb over slippery (wet/icy) beach logs, at considerable risk of injury from falling. This relatively minor problem is readily solveable. Also a “port-a-potty” midway along the trail for emergency use would be appropriate.

In conclusion, I and the overwhelming majority of other users (I believe), strongly feel that the entire Pub to Pub Trail should remain open for public use, hopefully in perpetuity. We hope that the SRD will arrange to assure that this happens.

Chris Hanelt