Parks Canada has completed several projects over the course of 2019.
The first is the Avalanche Mitigations completed over Rogers Pass/Trans-Canada Highway (TCH).
The Avalanche Detection Network, comprised of four Radar Detection Systems and thirteen Infrasound Detection System Arrays, the was installed at strategic locations near avalanche paths along the TCH corridor in Rogers Pass. The network will provide Parks Canada’s Avalanche Control technicians early warning of avalanche activity and measurement of avalanche magnitude in specific paths, improving avalanche forecasting and timing of winter road closures.
Additionally, all five Rogers Pass snow sheds received drainage upgrades that will extend their service life, and LED lighting that will improve motorist safety and experience.
Also improved for travellers safety wast the Cougar Corner catchment ditch, which was enlarged to provide greater avalanche debris capacity.
The next major project was the Illecillewaet Stone Arch Culvert Restoration – Rogers Pass. Over two weeks in September, roughly 470 tonnes of rock were placed around the Illecillewaet Stone Arch Culvert to reinforce its concrete footings. The purpose of this work was to protect the historic 115-year-old bridge against future erosion. The restoration design included fish passage considerations for periods of high and low river flows to ensure native bull trout populations can continue to move easily through this area.
There was the Illecillewaet Curve Improvements on the TCH. Significant safety improvements to a nine-kilometre section of the TCH in Glacier National Park – from Hermit Trailhead to just west of Loop Brook Campground – are now finished. Improvements include the addition of a new westbound passing lane, access to the Illecillewaet Campground, Hermit Trailhead and Summit Monument, culvert replacements, rock scaling, and installation of new directional signs and guardrails/barriers.
Other projects completed in 2019
• New pit toilets were installed at the Mount Sir Donald Chain-Up area on the Trans-Canada Highway and replacement pit toilets installed in the Illecillewaet Valley Trailhead parking lot in Glacier National Park.
• Ten hiking trails in the popular Illecillewaet and Asulkan valleys were repaired for visitor safety and enjoyment. Work included erosion control, upgrading signage, and critical repairs to trail structures.
• An ageing sewer line that line runs under the TCH as part of the Rogers Pass Wastewater System was repaired. The repaired line will reduce the likelihood of Parks Canada needing to close the highway for sewer repairs, and will improve the reliability of public washroom facilities at Rogers Pass.
Though 2019 saw a lot of improvement, there is more planned for 2020. These include continuing Avalanche Mitigations over Rogers Pass.
• Work on the Mounds static avalanche defence structure will resume in 2020 with construction of a safe traffic-holding area in the Beaver Valley to be used during avalanche control/highway closures.
• Beaver Hill rock slope stabilization in Glacier National Park will continue in late spring 2020.
Construction continues on the new 24-hour washroom building and day use area in Rogers Pass. The exterior and interior framing of the building is complete and roofing is currently in progress. Work on the building interior will continue throughout the winter. The facility is scheduled to open in late 2020.
On the lower slopes of Mount Revelstoke, construction of the new Snowforest Campground is nearing completion, and the field unit is working on many items necessary to welcome campers in spring 2020, such as installing picnic tables and fire rings, designing signs, and ordering bear-proof food lockers.
Due to a major spruce beetle infestation, many large old-growth spruce trees in Mount Sir Donald Campground, at Illecillewaet Valley Trailhead and other day use areas were necessary to remove for public safety before the 2020 operational season. Work will continue next fall in order to ensure no significant impacts to bird or bat populations, as well as avoiding winter avalanche hazards.
Excavation of contaminated soil on the former Glacier Park Lodge site was completed in 2018, and this year the ground was seeded with native grasses and a perimeter fence installed. Soil and groundwater sampling, monitoring and remediation at Parks Canada’s operations compound was also conducted this year. Groundwater remediation involved injecting chemical oxidants into the sub-surface to target petroleum hydrocarbons and speed up the natural degradation process. Sampling and monitoring of sub-surface contamination will be ongoing throughout the Rogers Pass summit area for the foreseeable future to ensure the extent of contaminated soil and groundwater is well understood and any potential risk to human health or the environment can be mitigated.