Visitors and locals alike enjoy to paddle the Columbia River.

Toilets a necessity on Columbia River

Infrastructure important in tourism destinations

Have you ever tried to take small children canoeing? There are a thousand more things to pack than you think you should have to, and you still end up forgetting something: hats, sunglasses, extra clothes, bathing suits, sunscreen, water, snacks, snacks and more snacks, and a few toys in case they get bored. Oh, don’t forget lifejackets, paddles, some more snacks, emergency cellphone, camera, and while you’re at it, throw in a couple extra snacks.

Before you leave home, everyone is required to use the bathroom. We do not step foot out the door until everyone has gone.

But, of course, we finally get out the door, everything loaded, get to the drop-in point for our canoe adventure and almost every time, someone has to “use the potty” again. Or, after we’ve canoed for a short amount of time, we have to rush to the lakeshore in search of washroom facilities.

So just what do people do if that happens on the Columbia River? We don’t have personal experience with the river since our adventures thus far have taken us to lakes or a short stretch of the wetlands. But, given that a four-hour paddle between Invermere and Radium is a common undertaking, I imagine the lack of facilities can be a real problem.

That’s why the proposal by Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners is so exciting. They would like to see toilet facilities placed along the Columbia River at strategic drop-in points. This proposal just makes sense; we have hundreds upon hundreds of tourists and locals alike who enjoy the wetlands. Around Invermere, there are washrooms a’plenty for tourists who want to be comfortable while they shop, play and stay here. Yet on the water, there are none of those same basic facilities we all need.

Hopefully, the Rural Dividend funding comes through so a study can be done looking at this issue. Otherwise, we as a community will continue to promote the pristine Columbia wetlands for recreationists while at the same time not providing for paddler’s comfort and basic necessities and not doing our part to keep this local gem shining.

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