Gates at Tamihi Cut down

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You arrive for your football practice at Townsend Park one sunny
afternoon, to find the field had been plowed up, or your hockey game at
Prospera is cancelled because someone has punctured the pipes and the
ice has melted. Imagine how you would feel.

Now imagine how it felt for the Canadian women’s white-water champion to
stand above the Tamihi slalom course; looking down, with a tear rolling
across her cheek, at the vandalized gates she was supposed to be
training in. How would you feel? Angry? Disappointed? Discouraged?
Shocked that someone could so willfully damage what should be considered
a local treasure?

This was going to be one of the last training sessions for Jazmyne
Denhollander before she flies off to Mexico, with the National team, to
compete in the Pan-American Championships. But instead of training, she
spent the time maneuvering her kayak through the rapids, trying to
recover fallen gates.

The Tamihi slalom course is under the stewardship of the Chilliwack
Centre of Excellence. Yes it’s a grand name but we are not a
pretentious lot; just a not-for-profit group of normal people who love
paddling and occasionally we develop champions. Tamihi is truly one of
the finest natural white-water courses in the world, with paddlers
coming from across the country and the USA to train here. It is comprised of the beautiful natural rapids themselves and a series
of wires strung across the river, just above the Tamihi bridge. From
these wires, the “gates” I refer to, are suspended. They are attached
to cords running to either bank, which control their position and
height. If you cut the cord, the gate falls into the river, where it
becomes a hazard to kayaks, rafters and people fishing. Someone has cut 12 cords on the upper end of the course, only days after
a CCE work crew had repaired the last round of damage (photos attached).
This is the third time in six months that this kind of vandalism has
been inflicted, but this is by far the worst. We have no idea who is
doing this. Is it local fishermen? No, because the majority of people
we proudly know as fisherman respect the environment, are active in
river cleanup, and have enjoyment and patience when watching kayaks and
canoeists travel down the river. This is our playing field, our ice sheet, our ball diamond; we are
stunned as to how someone could have such callous disregard for
another’s sport, their recreation, their peace of mind. For us, it
defies reason that we should have to but we would like ask- no plead
with (whomever it is) to please stop. Consider the consequences of your
actions: this is a Canadian Regional training centre, you are
inhibiting the progress of current and future Champions and Olympians
and the gates, cords or wires in the water pose a risk to local wildlife
as well as river users.

This has to, and will, stop. Let’s not make it the hard way.

If you have any information about this vandalism at Tamihi, please
contact the RCMP.

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