A gate is typically symbolic of arrival or exiting a location; this is especially true for the gate into Kootenay National Park.
Parks Canada has decided that the Sinclair Canyon gate doesn’t give visitors that sense of arrival, so they are in the early stages of moving the gate past the hot pools to the overflow parking at Red Rock Canyon.
“It has a far greater sense of arrival to Kootenay National Park; you’ve come through Sinclair Canyon and gone by the hot pools,” said Travis Wert, asset manager for Parks Canada.
The plans for the new gate include two lanes to the main kiosk with a side kiosk which visitors will have to pull off the highway to access, as well as a parking area, and information boards so the park can engage more with visitors, according to Wert. Parks Canada is hoping all of which will make visitors’ experience more relaxing when entering the park.
“It’s just not relaxing when you’re out on your long weekend or your weekend with your family and trying to get in the park,” said Mr. Wert. “And because the current limits of lane way, the park queue grows into the traffic queue and extends far down the hill. So the intent is to move the gate into the overflow parking lot, so you’ll have an egress from the highway go through the gate and then have access to the highway at North or uphill end of the overflow parking lot.”
For the Village of Radium Hot Springs, the change is something council supports wholeheartedly according to Mayor Clara Rheinhardt. She commented to The Echo that this was something they had talked about doing in the past, but she didn’t know it had risen to the top of Parks Canada’s list.
“I remember it was part of a strategic plan several years ago that we were involved with but with the funding, it just changes so much,” said Mrs. Rheinhardt.
The relocation of the gate is expected to help with long weekend traffic backup from Radium into Kootenay National Park.
“On long weekends that queue can come all the way back down to the four-way almost. So we’re going to streamline that so that queue now is not going to be as long. It’s going to be off the highway it’s going to be in those two lanes in the overflow parking lot,” said Wert.
The project is projected to begin in 2018 along with a highways project that will deal with a culvert in Sinclair Canyon.
“We’re in the intermediate design phase right now we should have a detailed design coming out in the next few weeks and once you get a detailed design that’s when you get detailed cost estimates you get detailed time estimates,” said Wert.
Until the 2018 start date Parks Canada will continue to focus on their upgrades to Sinclair Canyon, throughout this summer.