People hoping to establish a new recreation area in South Castlegar got some good news recently.
An 80-acre property in the Waterline area has been purchased by owners who want to preserve the area for rock climbing.
The property, uphill from Kinnaird School off 14th Avenue, has been used by locals for years as a hiking and biking trail, even though it was privately owned. When the land came up for sale last year, a group began looking for investors to purchase it to protect the recreational site.
Now a pair of climbers from Nelson has purchased the Waterline property to secure climbing access.
Mirek Hladik and June Ray, two longtime Nelson residents who have been involved in the local climbing community for 30 years, have purchased the land to protect it and preserve recreational access.
“When we heard that someone wanted to purchase the Waterline, we decided we had to act fast,” Hladik said in a news release. “It’s exciting to have a guaranteed access to the Waterline area. We have seen too many areas shut down in the past and it would be huge loss to see this one go.”
The asking price for the land was $350,000 last summer, but it is unclear what the final sale price was.
The couple now plans to subdivide the Waterline crags in hope of selling a parcel to a local group that can take on the liability risk, preserve climbing access and outdoor recreation.
The Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers (TAWKROC) has been approach by the new owners for that purpose. TAWKROC is a non-profit society that focuses on safety and access issues for the climbing community in the West Kootenay. TAWKROC is also the current owner of the Kinnaird bluffs climbing area, a property that was similarly purchased and saved from development several years ago.
“We are very excited about this potential opportunity and we plan to bring it to our membership to vote on in the near future,” said TAWKROC director Ian McDonald.
Hladik and Ray have already been in contact with Castlegar city officials to start the subdivision process.
“We hope that this process won’t take more than four to five months and it will be ready for our spring climbing season,” Hladik said. “We would like there to be an improved parking area, outhouse and more hiking and biking trails as well.”
In recent years, rock climbing has become a part of the City of Castlegar’s tourism focus and climbers now visit the area from all over Canada.