Ashcroft Slough Society

 


 


A grassroots Society made up of user groups de​dicated to re-gaining access

  to the Ashcroft Slough area. We are advocating for one safe legal access, to replace the three access points historically used, on Evans Road north east of Ashcroft, BC.

The Ashcroft Slough Society r​ecognizes ​​and is respe​ctful that it lies on the traditional territory

​of the Nlaka'pamux, St'át'i​​mc and Secwépemc people.​​​

SHARE OUR VISION

"To experience and embrace health on, along, or near water"


The purposes of the Society are:

1. to seek access to the Ashcroft Slough and share the space with locals or visitors interested in accessing the space

2. to promote the physical and mental well-being of locals or visitors by supporting access to natural spaces on, along, or near water.

 (from the Ashcroft Slough Society Constitution)

"Ashcroft Slough #1" by Marina Papais

The Ashcroft Sl​ough

This stunning, ecologically diverse area, located about 3.5 km north east of the town of Ashcroft, BC,  is public foreshore, located where gravel and sediments accumulate due to a natural elbow in the Thompson River. It floods yearly, is a riparian protected area, and is zoned parkland by the municipality. It has been an oasis in the desert, frequented by indigenous peoples for millennium, by settlers who arrived over 150 years ago, and by nature lovers of all kinds in the more recent past. 

Ashcroft Terminal

In 1997, the lands adjacent to the Slough were 'quietly being purchased', reconfigured into a bare land strata, and taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve. Work began on the creation of Ashcroft Terminal, a private inland trans-loading, container storage and distribution centre in the early 2000's. 

Access to the Slough was from Evans Road, a public road that skirted the northern perimeter of the properties. As expansion progressed, access for the public to the Slough was denied and the road was decommissioned. Safe alternative access, however, has never been provided.

"First Light" by Marina Papais and Hanna Franes

Ashcroft Terminal Community Working Group

In 2020, Ashcroft Terminal asked for volunteers to be part of a Community Working Group to look at ways to give back something to the community for having taken away access to the Slough. Fourteen people were selected to sit on the CWG panel: three members of the public and eleven other individuals, most with associations to the Terminal. The small but strong group of community members made it clear to the CWG that safe access to the Slough was what citizens wanted, and that access was of utmost importance and had to be considered.

​Because access to the Slough requires crossing private lands, including the CN mainline, the position of Ashcroft Terminal is that access has 'never been legal', so alternative access is not something they feel obliged to provide. The Ashcroft Slough Society, formed after the CWG dissolved without resolving the issue, respectfully, but strongly disagrees. 

"Spring time at the Slough" by Marina Papais and Daniel Collett

Ashcroft Slough Society Position

Evans Road, formerly an historic wagon road, which hugged the Thompson River, was used to access ranches and homesteads further up the river from the Ashcroft townsite. Even before CP and CN railways came through, the public was invited to access the Slough for recreational pursuits. Ashcroft Terminal claims that the section of Evans Road passing through their properties is private, while the Ashcroft Slough Society disputes that claim. It is our position that since safer public access through the use of this road has been removed by the Ashcroft Terminal that it is only right that they provide another.​

 "Creating a legal pedestrian crossing would mitigate risk for all parties. Of course, access needs to be safe. If no completely safe way is provided, then people will naturally make riskier decisions to gain access."

Daniel Collett (educator and A.S.S. member)

Proposed Trail

The access we propose would start near the CN train bridge. A tunnel such as a large culvert, or a set of stairs to a landing, could create a safe legal pedestrian crossing under or over the CN tracks. The area just east of the CN bridge, before the gate installed by the corporation, is outside of the Ashcroft Terminal lands and has clear sight lines for pedestrians to see oncoming trains in both directions. An easement would have to be granted wherever the trail crosses into Ashcroft Terminal property, or, conversely, the riverside properties below the CN tracks and not part of the industrial development could be donated or acquired to facilitate public access. The CN berm forms a manmade barrier between the inland port and the Slough foreshore. 


Accessing the Slough

Access to the Slough foreshore via the water is legal. Any craft can navigate the Thompson River and dock temporarily at the Slough. 


There are two potential overland routes of public access to the Slough: 

- from Evans Road, under CN rail bridge, then along the riverbank below the high water mark. This route is only accessible seasonally when the water is low. It is a difficult hike over riverbank boulders. 

- across some private lands granted, where there is evidence of historic travel, including indigenous travel, to the Slough. This requires permission from the Ashcroft Terminal land owners.

Both routes require crossing CN right-of-way.


This is a view from the Ashcroft Slough in spring.

Water during spring run-off often reaches the top of the CN bridge pillars.

CN's Crossing Policy

Railway representatives maintain, "The safest railway crossing is no crossing." Crossing railway tracks at any location, other than a designated, authorized crossing is considered trespassing.  The narrative railway companies use is that reducing the number of crossings protects the public. But, this is flawed logic. Blocking safe access to public resources actually increases the risk of incidents on, near, or by railway tracks. Railway corporations are more concerned about liability than they are about safety.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

If you have used the Slough for recreation in the past and want to be able to regain access to public resources, or if you see the worth in supporting our cause, please consider joining the Ashcroft Slough Society on our Membership page! There is a $5 membership fee for new registrants. Children under 16 are able to register for free. 


You can also help by simply staying engaged. Keep talking about the issue with your friends, write letters to the Ashcroft Terminal or the Journal, or post about it on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. We need to let Ashcroft Terminal know that the public cares about this issue. 


Donations can also be made payable by cheque to the Ashcroft Slough Society or by e-transfer on our Donations page.  No tax receipts are available as we are an advocacy organization and not a charity.