Thursday • September 29, 2022
Grant from the Targeted Regional Tourism Development Initiative funded by the Government of BC is the biggest funder behind this initiative.
Elk River Regional Infrastructure and Amenity Initiative (aka Elk River Initiative) is a regional stakeholder-driven approach promoting safe and reliable river access to the Elk River by developing and improving prioritized infrastructure and amenities that support sustainable tourism development and management in the watershed. This initiative is in partnership with the Elk River Alliance and is part of the RDEK Area A Sustainable Tourism Project with additional funding support from the RDEK Area A, TECK, Columbia Basin Trust, and Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. The Elk River is a pristine, world-class freestone river and long-standing tourism asset for the region. Key access points along the river have been in critical need of improvement for years.
The Elk River has a reputation as one of the finest dry-fly fisheries in North America, is renowned for its whitewater and scenic attributes for rafting excursions and has caught the attention of many recreational users such as kayaking, canoeing, standup paddle-boarding, tubing and more. The Elk River is one of British Columbia's most significant tourist attractions.
The Elk River 2013 Go Fish BC impact report estimates angling expenditures alone in the Kootenay region at over $89 million annually. However, watercraft and public access to the river is restricted to primitive boat launches and access points that are unreliable and inconsistent from year to year, greatly limiting river usage by both the tourism industry and local recreational users. Additionally, there is a lack of infrastructure necessary for the growing use along the river corridor e.g. washrooms, garbage, recycling, parking, picnic sites and signage (directional, educational, safety). These improvements are desperately needed, even more so during this current COVID-19 trend of even greater increases in river users.
The Elk River Initiative focuses on formalizing priority river access points, developing safe and reliable access, as well as appropriate visitor amenities and community education. The priority locations include Morrissey in partnership with BC Parks, Elko in partnership with BC Hydro, RDEK Area B and the Province of BC, Olson Pit in partnership with Ministry of Transportation, and additional more long-term efforts for Hosmer and Hwy 93 river access points.
After the 2013 flood with recovery money and other grants, the City of Fernie improved the Dogwood Park riverbank protection, rebuilt the boat launch ramp, installed pre-cast concrete toilet vault, installed information kiosk, picnic area and replanting riparian vegetation. This location and the approach implemented has withstood the test of time and is a model worth replicating by the Elk River Initiative.
Elk River infrastructure and amenity improvements will ensure sustainable usage by both local businesses and recreational users, as well as from across the country, supporting economic recovery and sustainable tourism in the Elk Valley. The economic benefit does not stop at the guiding and recreational business level. The tightly knit tourism industry in the Elk Valley grants opportunities for local hotels, restaurants, and vendors to profit from the projected influx of recreational visitors.
For more information please reach out to Tourism Fernie.
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