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PVTA seeks to resolve trail issues

Rail police handing out tickets on well-used sections

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Whistler’s Karl Ricker, an avid bird watcher and hiker, decided to join the Pemberton Valley Trails Association in their annual trail clean-up day on April 9. He was running a little late and missed the work groups as they left for trails in the Mosquito Lake area, but hiked out to the area anyway to join a crew.

After walking the area for a while, he spotted a truck and a man on the side of the railway tracks. Thinking that the man might be involved with the PVTA or might know where to find the crews he approached the person to ask for help.

The man turned out to be from the CN Rail police. He promptly ticketed Ricker for trespassing on private property, refusing to answer questions or hear his explanations for being there.

After receiving the ticket, Ricker left the CN Rail policeman who was using his binoculars to scan up and down the rail bed looking for trespassers. After finally finding a work crew, Ricker then discovered that the CN rail police had been active in the area in recent weeks and that several people have been ticketed.

"I was quite taken aback. I walk the train tracks every day, have done for years and years, and this was the first time I had even seen the rail police," said Ricker.

Not only is Ricker an avid birdwatcher and hiker, he is also one of the foremost explorers in the Sea to Sky area, completing several first ascents and traverses. Half the peaks in this part of Garibaldi Park were named by him and his partners after exploring the area in the 1960s.

The ticket was for $115 and Ricker is disputing it on several grounds – including the fact that you have to receive a warning before you can be ticketed for trespassing, and the fact that the rail beds in B.C. are still publicly owned Crown land, leased out to CN Rail for 999 years.

He has learned that others who have been ticketed have been successful in their disputes.

"For me this sets a dangerous precedent. That railway line runs right through the middle of Pemberton, it’s the same line that people cross a thousand times a day in Whistler. Anywhere you go in B.C. there’s railway tracks, and people crossing at all times of the day. You can’t even access some areas in B.C., and we’re talking public land, without crossing the railway tracks," he said.

The Pemberton Valley Trails Association is aware of the issue and is attempting to follow up with CN Rail.

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