The Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers (TAWKROC) has been successful in its bid to save the area known as the Kinnaird Bluffs from any future development. The group is now on title for the 17-acre property.
TAWKROC was successful in raising about $33,000 of the $50,000 asking price. Those funds came from individuals and organizations such as the Alpine Club of Canada, Columbia Basin Trust, Kootenay Mountaineering Club, Climbers Access Society and Castlegar Rotary.
According to TAWKROC spokesman Vince Hempsall, “An angel investor came on board and loaned us the $17,000 so the purchase could go through.” The group now has about two years to repay the loan.
TAWKROC has also become an official nonprofit society. They are still looking to raise the funds to pay off the loan and will be continuing with grant applications and other fundraising ventures such as a membership drive at the Kootenay Climbing Festival.
The easiest way to make a direct contribution is through tawkrok.org. A donate link will take you to the Climbers Access Society of BC (CASBC); follow the instructions given on the TAWKROC website to ensure the donation goes towards the Kinnaird Bluffls project. “CASBC has been fundamental in all of this,” said Hempsall. “They are a registered charity and donations that go through them can get a charitable receipt.”
TAWKROC’s stated end goal is to work with local and provincial bodies to create a park that can be used by hikers, rock climbers and other outdoor aficionados in perpetuity. This would be done by donating the property to the City of Castlegar.
They have now walked all of the property to get a sense of its boundaries and features before making definite decisions about how best to use the property. “We have a much better appreciation for just how big the property is now that we have walked it all,” said Hempsall.
Publicity around the Save the Bluffs campaign has put the area on more people’s radars resulting in increased use of the area.
The group is slowly but steadily going through all the processes that will be necessary to see their vision of a park come to pass. “In the interim, we own it, people can climb on it,” said Hempsall. “We are happy it was successful. It was a huge effort on behalf of directors and the public in general. They are the ones who stepped forward and proved how much they valued the property in terms of it being a space that the public can access.”