News articles about active transportation and trails in
July 28, 2010, Red Deer
Express (Mark Weber)
council adopts river valley plan
City Council adopted a trails and parks planning tool Monday night
in the form of the River Valley & Tributaries Park Concept Plan.
The long-term plan's purpose is to identify lands best suited for
potential trails and parks within the City of Red Deer's 'growth
Marking a collaboration between the City of Red Deer and Red Deer
County, one of the plan's 21 recommendations urges exploration of
one day even designating the Red Deer River a 'municipal park'.
Other recommendations include aggressively pursuing provincial and
federal funding, identifying parcels for land purchase and the
beginning of work with landowners and maximizing the use of
Environmental Reserve to acquire lands adjacent to rivers,
tributaries, lakes, sloughs, escarpments and other environmentally
"Parks and preservation planning for the City of Red Deer really
began in the late to mid-1970s with a plan that talked about the
Waskasoo Park System itself," said Trevor Poth, parks superintendent
for the City of Red Deer.
The purpose of this plan is to talk about where we are to date, but
also to look forward to a future vision with a focus on Red Deer
having a population of 300,000 people, he said.
"It really represents what our vision is for our future parks
Poth said to keep up the percentage of the City's land area at its
current level, as much as 2,394 hectares of new parkland would need
to be added to the Waskasoo Park system. Ultimately, he said the
goal is to establish a linear park system focused on the Red Deer
River, Blindman River, Piper Creek and Waskasoo Creek.
"The key to this plan is to tie all of those areas together into one
uniform parks system," he said, adding the area has a unique
ecosystem that he pointed out has been well protected over the past
"This is just an extension of that, and a huge future benefit for
Key principles that also guided stakeholders' formation of the plan
include following the river, connecting with trails, respecting
nature and 'mixing it up' -- working towards a balanced park system
with "lively populated places and quiet, solitary respites."
Councillors were impressed by what they heard.
"It helps to bring great tourism opportunities to the area," said
Cindy Jefferies. "More and more, people are looking for more active
holidays. The partnership with Red Deer County has also been great,
and this is a real positive thing for us to work on together. So
let's get on with it," she said.
Councillor Larry Pimm said currently, the Waskasoo trail system
means a great deal to local residents. Expansion of it only bodes
well for future generations, he said.
"To me, Waskasoo Park has been a great amenity for my family and I
hope my grandchildren will be able to take their grandchildren
through the additional areas and show them the wonderful things of
Meanwhile, City Council also approved the Environmental Master
Plan's Situation Assessment -- the first phase of the plan that will
guide Red Deer's environmental future over the next 25 years.
Core directions identified to achieve the vision including
'Encourage, Educate, Engage, Enable, Expect', prioritizing growth to
create vital, compact communities and protecting and enhancing green
"It was so important that Red Deerians offered their opinions and
ideas on how Red Deer can continue to not only improve its rich
natural environment but also minimize our ecological footprint,"
said Lauren Maris, environmental program specialist with the City of
For more about the Environmental Master Plan, check out
Photo: NEW PLAN - City council has adopted a trails and parks
planning tool, known as the River Valley &
Concept Plan, which may one day see the Red Deer River known
as a 'municipal park'.
Tiffany Sigurdson, Red Deer Express
2009, Red Deer
Advocate (Paige Aarhus)
Building trails to
Red Deer County hopes several recreational pilot projects will help
them move forward with its Open Spaces Master Plan.
Trails connecting Springbrook to Penhold and Spruce View to
Dickson, and a Cottonwood day-use area near Dickson Dam, have been
touted as the first step towards turning Red Deer County into an
"As we go through the implementation of those projects, we will
learn the process and carry that knowledge forward," said Alex Taylor, a
planner from Dillon Consulting.
Taylor described an intricate network of trails and outdoor
recreational areas that could come to fruition under the plan at a
Tuesday council meeting.
At the same time, they warned council that it's necessary to take
action and gain public support in order to implement the plan.
"It's great to have a plan but we don't want it to end up as a
report on a shelf," he said.
The goal is to create a variety of open spaces throughout the
county to take advantage of the scenery and existing landmarks of
different areas, which would be connected by trails wherever possible.
Taylor identified seven distinct zones within the county that could
benefit from developing trail systems and recreational areas, including
Alberta Central Railway, Medicine River, Ghost Pine and Boomtown.
"Most of the landscape in the county is very beautiful. We want to
work with existing features such as the trestle bridge," said Bev Sandalack, an environmental design professor who helped work on the
Several councillors expressed their enthusiasm for the plan and
lamented the lack of trails in rural Alberta.
"What seems like an anomaly to me is the lack of trails in a rural
environment, compared to Europe and other areas," said Councillor Reimar
Poth said the county is leading the province in terms of promoting
a trail network, but acknowledged the difficulty lies in getting the
public on board.
Mayor Earl Kinsella agreed.
"This is a very long-term project. Only with public support and
funding will it ever get done," he said.
Deputy mayor George Gehrke praised the plan and its goals, but
argued landowners should approve of any changes to their property.
"People who live on the land don't need a trail, they've got a
trail going out their front door . . . People in the neighbourhood are
not in favour of 'urbans' stomping through their yard, and they don't
want to pay for it," he said.
Planners began consultations for the plan in 2005. Another series
of consultations and work on precise implementation strategies will be
completed before it returns to council for approval.
24, 2008, Red Deer
Advocate (Paul Cowley)
Clearwater County calls on province
for advice about trail
Clearwater County wants the province's help in sorting out access
issues along a proposed scenic trail along an abandoned rail line
west of Rocky Mountain House.
A letter has been sent to Alberta Sustainable Resources Development
Minister Ted Morton asking that the province get involved in
smoothing the way for the trail by working out agreements with
companies owning timber rights along the anticipated 120-km trail
route from Nordegg to Rocky Mountain House.
"The trail will need the co-operation of Sustainable Resource
Development and the timber companies in order to facilitate access
to the trail," said Clearwater County Reeve Dwight Oliver.
There are about a dozen stream crossings along the proposed route
and there are a number of spots where trail users need to go off the
former rail right-of-way to continue their journey. Before any
further work can be done to push the trail project ahead, access
issues need to be sorted out or major changes in the concept must be
made, said Oliver.
"At this point now, we've decided the first phase of this needs to
be Sustainable Resource Development support for the concept and
helping work out those types of details."
Clearwater County has already committed $250,000 towards the cost of
developing the trail, estimated at $1 million to $2 million. There
is the possibility of tapping into more money using the province's
Municipal Sustainability Initiative.
The idea of turning the abandoned rail line into a tourist draw has
been kicking around since the 1970s, when the province protected the
land to ensure it remained intact.
About five years ago, the county did some basic surveying work to
gauge the condition of the route and to determine how much work will
be involved in making it safe for hikers, mountain bikers and other
Among the major jobs is replacing deck planking on three trestles as
well as overhauling sections of the old line where railway ties are
still in place.
In recent months, the enthusiasm for tackling the project appears to
be picking up steam.
Interest has been growing among outdoors groups and local businesses
and individuals have already volunteered to donate time and
Oliver said there has been "amazing support" from the community.
"We're pretty confident this is going to be a long-term success."
The tourism potential is considerable. B.C.'s Kettle Valley
Railroad, an abandoned rail bed that winds through south central
B.C. between Midway and Hope is a major draw for the area.
If the Rocky to Nordegg trail project goes ahead, it is expected it
would be built in sections over several years, likely starting in
Nordegg and working east. The abandoned rail line ends about 20 km
west of Rocky and a finishing leg would need to be mapped out.
2005, Red Deer
Advocate (Greg Neiman)
Advocate View (Editorial)
On the trail of a worthy plan
Every community needs people who can take a good idea, hold on to it
and patiently work it into completion. People like Bob Johnstone,
president of the Central Alberta Region Trail Society.
He's bought into the idea that a national network of cycle and
hiking trails would be a great legacy, and he's willing to invest an
awful lot of his time to help bring local sections of that network
Red Deer's trail system added 29 km to that network last June, and a
trail marker in Bower Ponds will be officially unveiled on Saturday.
Dedicating already-existing trails into the Trans Canada Trail
system is obviously a good idea. But the TCT -- the longest
cycling/hiking route in the world at 18,000 km -- won't be a reality
until a whole lot of new trail is built.
Although Alberta already has about 600 km of the trail completed, we
have a long way to go, because the east-west route across Canada
makes an intersection in Alberta with the route heading north into
That means we get the nation's largest provincial portion of the
trail, which -- as Johnstone could surely tell you -- is both a
blessing and a challenge.
It's a blessing because Alberta will have access to one of the
world's top new tourism draws of the millennium (about 62 per cent
of our section of the trail has been completed), and because
Red Deer will be almost in the centre of it.
A recent Price Waterhouse study done in Ontario gives an indication
of how big a deal this idea can be. They concluded that once
Ontario's part of the TCT is complete, it will add about $2.4
billion in value-added income to the province's economy. As much as
42,000 direct and indirect jobs will be added to the economy, fueled
by the money that people spend using the trails.
British Columbia needed no such study to conclude that it would be
worth $13.4 million to rebuild or refurbish 14 trestle bridges that
were destroyed or damaged in the forest fires of 2003.
The Kettle Valley Trail, that runs 450 km over old railway beds (and
the trestle bridges in the spectacular Myra Valley canyon), is a key
part of Central B.C.'s tourism plan.
In fact, they are spending even more money to expand the trail to
700 km, linking other existing trails and 18 communities in their
Spirit of 2010 project.
Alberta's recently-completed Iron Horse Trail runs for 300 km, much
of it on old rail lines and is designed for four-season use. It now
links Waskatenau (and from there, the Saskatchewan portion), to Cold
Lake and beyond, to be linked with Alberta's capital region of the
CTC. It's already proving to be a huge tourism booster.
Even though the experience of people living along trails shows that
the trails produce far fewer problems than benefits, getting
stakeholder support (which includes local landowners) is proving to
be a slow process.
Another roadblock to the easy linking of communities (and their
local trail networks) is the policy of Alberta Transport not to
allow trail development along highways to link communities.
A media spokesperson for Alberta Transportation and Infrastructure
maintained the policy is to address safety concerns.
But if there's no trail along the road allowance of a highway, a
cyclist or hiker would have to travel the highway itself. That can't
It certainly can't be because of the cost, because local trail
committees actually raise money for trail construction and upkeep --
and the trails more than pay for themselves in increased tourist
Just ask the merchants at Bentley, who prosper each summer from the
roadside trail linking the Aspen Beach campground on Gull Lake to
Even so, some local highway routes are fabulous bike routes all on
One example: Hwy 951 north of Leslieville is one of the most
beautiful country rides you could find anywhere, and it links
wonderfully on a circle route on Hwy 51 east to Bentley or west and
south back to Rocky Mountain House.
There are many other such routes, that beg for a linked trail
network. Consider the route following the Boomtown Trail southeast
of Red Deer.
How much more successful could that tourism effort be if the
provincial government allowed some of the communities on it to be
linked on cycle trails just off the highways?
These kinds of local roadblocks might be enough to make some
dedicated volunteers just give up and stay home.
But people like Bob Johnstone just keep on working. That's why
communities need them.
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