More safe access to the Thompson River will be one of the focuses of a Trails Working Group established by the Village of Ashcroft. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

More safe access to the Thompson River will be one of the focuses of a Trails Working Group established by the Village of Ashcroft. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Ashcroft city council eyes trails master plan with focus on Thompson River

Residents can have their say about trails in the village and how they would use them

The Thompson River is likely to play a starring role in the Village of Ashcroft’s Trails Master Plan.

Mayor Barbara Roden said the river has come up as a point of interest in online surveys for the plan, and said council will have to find ways to ensure people can access it safely. A mail-out survey is expected to go out shortly to gather more insight from the public on what they would like to see as part of the plan.

“It is rather an unsubtle feature of Ashcroft,” Roden said. “Everyone notices it. There has been discussion about emphasizing it as a feature of the village — how can we improve the access to it; to put more trails along the river so more people can enjoy it safely.”

Access to the river has been a contentious issue in Ashcroft, following a decision by the Ashcroft Terminal to block access to the Ashcroft Slough for safety reasons as it expands its site. Members of the Ashcroft Slough Society have been lobbying for the public’s right to access the slough, which they feel is a national monument.

Gloria Mertens, interim vice-president of the society, made a presentation to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District last week, asking for its support in pushing for access to the slough. While the society supports economic development, she noted it must go hand-in-hand with livability for residents.

“The community is owed access to the Ashcroft Slough,” she said.

CFO Yogi Bhalla said this is the time when community can give input as to what they would like to see in the trails master plan. He said there has been a good response so far, with people requesting everything from walking paths to mountain bike trails — something that is growing in popularity across the province.

“This is the time when the community can respond. Things we haven’t typically thought about, like mountain biking, is becoming a huge sport,” Bhalla said. “People working on this are avid hikers and mountain bikers, so I’m really pleased to work with them.”

Roden said it’s good to get a variety of feedback, as “trails mean different things to different people. It’s going to be a process. This is not a quick thing.”

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