Cherry Creek Falls Park opened
By Ian Cobb
About 60 people gathered in the small parking lot at the brand new Cherry Creek Falls Park on a pleasant Sunday afternoon (June 12), while another group of people mingled not far away in the shade, fireside, just above the falls.
Five years ago the site being celebrated as a regional park, and loved and used by Kimberley and area residents for decades, was being marked off for a rock quarry.
Long story short (see full story below), that did not sit well with Meadowbrook area residents, nor with Kimberley and Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) leadership, and a successful ‘Save the Falls’ campaign was waged to wrest the land away from a would-be quarry owner.
The Meadowbrook Community Association (MCA) was formed as a result and they effectively and efficiently worked with locally elected officials, as well as with Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett and Columbia River-Revelstoke BC Liberal Party candidate Doug Clovechok. With the BC government engaged, a deal was brokered where the tenure holder would be reimbursed. And the MCA incredibly raised the $55,000 required.
A number of the key people involved in the five-year process, that has resulted in Cherry Creek Falls becoming a regional park, with greatly improved access and safety, spoke during the grand opening celebration.
RDEK board chair and Electoral Area C Director Rob Gay lauded the efforts of the community and Electoral Area E Director Jane Walter, who has worked tirelessly on the issue, covering the entire time she has held office.
MCA president Bob Johnstone took time to recognize everyone involved in the process, noting the grant support from Columbia Basin Trust, Kimberley & District Community Foundation, Kootenay Savings Community Foundation and the RDEK.
He also thanked the aforementioned Bennett and Clovechok for opening doors and ears in Victoria, and with a laugh thanked the tenure holder for being agreeable.
Fairmont Hot Springs resident Clovechok, again the Columbia River-Revelstoke BC Liberal candidate (for 2017), congratulated the community on making it happen, pointing out that it was “a non-partisan effort.”
The story of Cherry Creek Falls Regional Park
Once upon a time there was a beautiful natural attraction in Meadowbrook known as Cherry Creek Falls. For generations residents and visitors enjoyed recreating in the area.
Then, in September 2011, by accident, a resident became aware of an application to create a quarry adjacent to the falls and began spreading the news in the community. Since approval of the application would result in the public being denied access to this natural attraction, citizens were incensed and began expressing their opposition.
When their individual protests seemed to be having little impact, on April 5, 2012, residents and other users met and formed the Meadowbrook Community Association (MCA). The newly-elected board continued to pressure officials in the Ministry of Energy and Mines and began lobbying provincial and local politicians. In June 2012, the MCA organized a ‘Save the Falls’ picnic that was attended by more than 200 people.
In August, the RDEK expressed its opposition to the proposed quarry and indicated its willingness to create a day use only regional park at Cherry Creek Falls. In September, the RDEK held a public meeting to announce its willingness provided that the MCA could convince the mineral tenure holder to forfeit the claim and the province to prohibit mining on the entire tenure. The 50 plus attendees were unanimous that the MCA should try to do so.
For another six months the MCA board intensified its opposition to the quarry and solicited donations and grants to purchase the tenure. By March 2013 it had raised the required $55,000. On April 5, 2013, during the first anniversary of its founding meeting, the Gold Commissioner informed the MCA that the tenure holder had forfeited the claim and that future mining had been prohibited on the 400 plus acres.
Following this decision, the RDEK applied to the province for a license to create an Area E park on approximately 40 acres and a permit for a parking lot. By the spring of 2014 the license and permit were secured. The RDEK then amended the RDEK Kimberley and Rural Zoning and Floodplain Management Bylaw to designate the area as P-2, Parks and Open Space.
Over the next two years, the RDEK, with the assistance of the MCA, designed and implemented a plan to develop the park. At the official opening on June 12, the partners and members of the public celebrated and expressed appreciation to the many individuals and groups whose lobbying efforts and/or financial contributions made the park possible.
Lead image: Key MCA members and elected officials, including Electoral Area E Director Jane Walter, cut the ribbon Sunday afternoon, officially opening Cherry Creek Falls Regional Park. Photos by Ian Cobb/e-KNOW