A meeting proposing a history development project for commemorating the tipple proved controversial, as residents gathered at a meeting to discuss the project on June 1.
The Grand Forks ATV Club (GFATV) and the Columbia and Western Trail Society have joined to propose the historical site, which would be located near Fife Road. It would include a model of the tipple, a picnic structure that looks like the top of the tipple, and some parking. The site would feature historical information about the pioneers from Fife and the tipple itself.
Grace McGregor, Area C director was on hand, and warned attendees the meeting was not a forum for airing grievances about motorized and non-motorized use of the trail.
“This is the kind of information sharing everyone needs to do. I’m sure we’ll have lots more discussions like this,” McGregor said.
However, the issue did come up with residents of Fife complaining about the frequent noise on the trails near their home, and questions as to what constituted motorized use.
The project would take up a 35 x 70 foot cleared area. The groups aim to have it completed by 2017, in line with the 25th anniversary of the Trans Canada Trail and Canada’s 150th birthday.
Doug Zorn, president of GFATV, said the meeting to inform people about the potential project. “We’re meeting with different people,” he said.
Zorn said a previous meeting was held for Fife residents, but many audience members who live in Fife said they did not hear about the meeting.
The tipple was torn down because of liability issues for Teck, the company owning the property, Zorn said. Teck has offered to held fund the project, and pieces of the old structure will be incorporated. Zorn estimates the cost to be around $50,000 so far, but it is unclear how much of Teck will fund until there is a solid budget.
[We] approached Teck to see if they could retain relics and beams to be used in this project,” Zorn said.
Margaret Maximenko, a former RDKB Area C director and property owner in Fife, was outspoken about the project at the meeting, noting her property immediately borders the site.
“[This project] has the potential to spoil our retirement plans,” Maximenko said. “Honouring our heritage is important and of interests, to locals and tourists alike. I do believe the project site is an inappropriate location.”
Maximenko suggested the community park near the welcome centre site as a better location, specifically for its tourist appeal.
Zorn said the property will not be promoted as an ATV area, which was a concern of several attendees to the meeting.
“As far as the ATV club is concerned, we are not advocating for any ATV staging areas at Fife,” he said. “We’re not promoting this as an ATV event.”
Later, Maximenko noted how much the project would change the Fife community.
“This project is essentially proposing to put a Tourist Attraction up in the centre of the community of Fife. A place known for it beauty, bird wetland, peace and quiet,” she wrote via email. “This would be a significant change to the nature of the Fife community.”
Zorn addressed the complaints about the location, saying the club can look at alternate spots if need be.
“If the Fife residents don’t want it, there needs to be a debate about that,” he said.
At the meeting, Maximenko suggested that a community organization such as the Christina Lake Stewardship Society be called on to act as a facilitator in the negiotations.
Steven Rigby, vice-president of the Columbia & Western Trail Society issued a statement via email after the meeting clarifying some of the issues raised.
“This project was not intended to raise conflict with non-motorized and motorized as some felt at the meeting. It was to make the community a better place to live and share its rich history with others and help relevated – this is what he said, but sub “alleviate?” some concerns the residents have in the proposed project or design and area around the trail,” Rigby wrote.
However, Rigby noted that should the project be moved off the trail, the group would be withdrawing support.
“We don’t feel that if the project was relocated off the trail, there would be no significance in the project overall,” he wrote. “We would not contribute to it as an organization as we are focused on projects only along the trail.”
Rigby said he felt the project would help showcase some of the rich history in the area, but at the end of the day it is up to residents.
“We felt that the best interest would to see if we can help to preserve some history in some way or another for the residents to be proud to be part of their rich history,” he said.