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Media News re trails 2008
Fall 2008, Alberta Trailtracker,
by Debbie Olsen
New Rural Trail on the Horizon
Talk trails to urban residents
and you are likely preaching to the converted. Trails have long been
recognized as one of the best-used and most cost effective recreational
facilities in modern urban centres. They allow residents better access
to open green spaces, promote healthy living and even affect economic
Unfortunately, trails have not always held the same appeal for rural
residents. One of the challenges for stimulating support for trails and
green spaces in rural communities has been the sense that there is
already an abundance of open space. But things are changing in Alberta.
More than ever, rural residents are looking for ways to stay active and
walking and cycling are becoming more popular pursuits. Rural residents
want better access to natural areas such as lakes and wetlands and many
would like to see linkages between rural communities and urban ones.
Central Alberta is experiencing the benefits of this shift in attitude
thanks to some innovative and forward-thinking rural municipalities who
have taken the time to ask their residents what they want and followed
through with a plan to make it happen. In 2005, Red Deer County
commissioned an Open Spaces Master Plan that identified the need for
trails as one of the most important recreational facilities to Red Deer
County residents. A subsequent survey of residents in 2007 for the
Recreational Facilities Master Plan reconfirmed the importance of trails
when county residents listed trails as one of the top recreational
facilities they would like Red Deer County to undertake. "Residents have
said they want trails and we have been working on a plan to answer that
request," says Jo-Ann Symington, Community Services Manager for Red Deer
County. "The Open Spaces Management Plan identified three trails that
were a top priority and we are currently working on plans to build a 3.6
km trails from Springbrook to Penhold, a 6.8 km trail between Spruce
View and Dickson and a one km trail at the west end of Glennifer Lake to
provide public access to the Red Deer River."
The section of trail linking Springbrook and Penhold is planned to be
part of the Trans Canada Trail and Red Deer County is hoping to apply
for funding support from Alberta TrailNet and the Trans Canada Trail
Foundation and to begin construction in 2009. "We see it as providing a
valuable linkage between the communities of Springbrook and Penhold,"
says Symington. "We are in the process of surveying, completing the
engineering for the project, and obtaining right of way. We plan to make
it a showcase for the Trans Canada Trail in Alberta. There is a
beautiful wetland area and there will be some opportunities for a unique
design that has educational as well as recreational value."
The Springbrook to Penhold section of the Trans Canada Trail and the
other rural trails currently in the works at Red Deer County clearly
demonstrate that attitudes are changing when it comes to rural trails in
some parts of Alberta. The excitement about trails in Central Alberta is
almost tangible and thanks to forward-thinking municipalities and
hard-working trail advocates, we anticipate more exciting news about
Trans Canada Trail development in Central Alberta over the coming
Oct. 14, 2008, Red Deer
Advocate, by Paige Aarhus
Trail links coming
Several local communities make inroads on regional trail project
A leisurely bike ride from Lacombe to Ponoka could soon be a
possibility, according to the president of the Central Alberta Region
Debbie Olsen said an increasing number of municipalities are
helping develop a provincewide trail network that will give cyclists and
hikers a road less travelled than Hwy. 2.
"Wouldn't it be great to ride your bike from Red Deer to
Springbrook, or Lacombe to Blackfalds? We've been working on it for a
long time and I think we're finally getting somewhere. I think people
want this," said Olsen.
Several communities in Central Alberta, including Red Deer,
Lacombe, Ponoka, Wetaskiwin and Innisfail, have developed trail systems,
portions of which have been registered as Trans Canada Trail links.
The next goal is to link cities and towns in Central Alberta with a
system of rural trails through Red Deer, Lacombe and Ponoka counties.
Olsen said plans are going well so far because so many
municipalities are getting on board.
The town of Ponoka recently applied for two grants that could see
its trail system spread to Lacombe, Red Deer and even Edmonton.
"We would anticipate starting the paperwork this year," said chief
administrative officer Brad Watson.
"I am anxious to have it. Red Deer and Lacombe are doing trail work
and I would be interested in piggy-backing with one another, so that we
do economies of scale and it makes the project more attractive for
Watson said the town made applications for a $160,000 grant from
Alberta Trail Net system, and an additional $160,000 from the Trans
Canada Trail system.
"What a wonderful asset and benefit to the town of Ponoka. People
can go right up to Edmonton for the day and ride home, or to Red Deer
and ride home. It's an excellent activity to walk, to bike ride and we
even hope to have some of our areas wide enough that they can be used
for equestrian or snowmobile use," Watson said.
Phil Lodermeier, Lacombe's manager of operations, was also
enthusiastic about extending Central Alberta's rural trail network.
"I think we're evolving. We've traditionally been a very
rural-oriented county that focused on hard services like sewage and
power, and now we're starting to shift the focus to get more quality of
life and amenities," he said.
Lacombe County recently approved funding of $50,000 to construct a
pedestrian bridge over the Blindman River, a project the trails society
has been working on for years.
After the bridge is complete, Lodermeier said the town will work on
extending its rural trail network to meet trails from Ponoka and Red
"We will be part of the trail running, hopefully from Penhold to
Ponoka, with trails going right to the edge of our county," he said.
Plans are also underway to build a trail between Penhold and
Springbrook next spring.
"We've been asking for it for a long time but they had to finish
their open spaces master plan. All of these little separate things are
happening as part of the bigger picture," said Olsen.
Sept. 26, 2008, Red Deer
Advocate, by Stacy O'Brien
Trail bridge gets funds
Lacombe County puts $50,000 into walking, biking bridge over Blindman
The Central Alberta Regional Trail System got another boost after
Lacombe County council agreed on Thursday to put money towards a bridge
over the Blindman River.
Most of the cost will come from a $200,000 grant from the Alberta
Trail Net System and federal Trans Canada Trail system.
Lacombe County will chip in up to $50,000 for decking and rails to
build the bridge, said Phil Lodermeier, manager of operations with the
Councillor Bill Knight expressed concern about money going to a
recreational bridge when there are other bridges in the county that
could use some work. He said farmers can't get some of their wider
equipment, such as swathers and combines, over the bridges in his
division. He said they'll have to take the header and put it on a
trailer or drive it down a paved road where it is wide enough.
Lacombe County has a Bridge Contingency Reserve that sat at more
than $1 million at the end of December.
"I'm not against recreation and a bridge like that, but some of
these funds need to go to other projects, too. I guess my fear is if all
this fund went to recreation, I'd have a problem with it," Knight said.
Lodermeier said construction of the bridge would likely start in
the winter of 2009-2010. At two-and-a-half metres wide, it would be
large enough for pedestrian traffic and bikes. After the bridge is
completed, the county will own and maintain it.
The first phase of the Central Alberta Regional Trail System will
go from Blindman River to the Town of Lacombe and will be completed over
two or three years. Lodermeier said they would like to have park
benches, bathroom facilities and garbage cans along the trail.
"It's a relatively new concept. We're a rural county with typically
rural services. So getting into the recreation aspect is kind of new for
us, so we'll take our time, feel our way through it, to make sure we do
it right," Lodermeier said.
"It's good for the community. It's good for the quality of life and
you see the trail systems in the urban centres being very well used and
I expect ours will be as well."
Reeve Terry Engen said the trail system has been on the agenda for
a long time and it has been moving slowly, but it is time to cut to the
He said it will take a lot of community support to complete it.
Sept. 19, 2008, Red Deer Advocate - photo caption
City Councillor Larry Pimm stops to read a plaque dedicated to Bob
Johnstone, following a trail dedication ceremony held at Galbraith Park
on Thursday. A 500-metre trail linking the 55th Street parkway to the
south bank trail along Red Deer River has been named after Johnstone, in
recognition for his work in promoting trail development. Johnstone died
a few years ago.
Sept. 13, 2008, Red Deer Advocate, by Brenda Kossowan
Nordegg trail project moves
ATVs, horses, hikers and bikers may soon share a new trail system
running between Rocky Mountain House and Nordegg.
Clearwater County council this week chose Rimbey-based Armstrong
Consulting to look into various aspects of creating a multi-use trail on
an abandoned railbed running through the region.
The county hopes to create a trail that will accommodate all types
of users, community and protective services manager Mike Haugen said on
"There is a few of them around the province being looked at. One of
the big thing with our trail, we want to be open to ATVs."
Quads and bikes are being kept off a number of trails because of
the environmental impact, said Haugen. Part of the study on the new
trail will look at ways to limit that impact, he said.
"We're looking to see how we can facilitate it in a more
environmentally friendly and sustainable way," said Haugen.
"One of the issues (the consultant) is going to be looking at, how
do we get all of the users we want on this trail and make sure it's safe
and enjoyable for everybody."
Along with those issues, the consultant will also look at the
possibility of building campgrounds along the trail to accommodate
horses and quads. Neither are allowed in provincial campgrounds at this
time, said Haugen.
The consultant will meet soon with the county's steering committee
and then work on the study can get started. The county hopes to see a
report in late February or March.
The hope is that construction could start in spring, but the county
is not committing to any specific time lines at this time, said Haugen.
Budgeted at $100,000, the cost of the study is being shared by the
county and Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation.
July 30, 2008, Red Deer
Two of Red Deer's most dedicated environmental stewards were honoured
posthumously by city council on Monday.
Michael O'Brien was a long-time Red Deer River Naturalist and founding
member of the Ellis Bird Farm, who died in 1997. He will now be linked
to a new natural area.
Council approved naming a storm water management facility north of the
Clearview subdivision, The Michael O'Brien Constructed Wetland.
Bob Johnstone passionately supported trail development in the Red Deer
region, worked on the city's Bicycle and Gaetz Avenue Master Plans, and
was a member of Alberta TrailNet. He will now have a trail named after
Part of the Waskasoo trail system that links the 55th Street pathway to
the South Bank Trail is now called the Bob Johnstone Trail.
July 24, 2008, Red Deer Advocate, by Susan Zielinski
Trails across county
Parks, open spaces included in new Red Deer County plan
People got their first look this week at detailed, long-term plans
for trails, parks and other open spaces in Red Deer County.
About 20 people came out to an open house on Tuesday at Red Deer
County Centre to see maps of seven zones within the county as part of
the Open Spaces Master Plan where future recreational projects have been
Work on the master plan started in 2005 and the zones were first
identified in 2007.
The aim is to have a variety of open spaces throughout the county
to take advantage of the natural beauty of different areas and connect
them by trails where possible.
"People were saying they wanted more access to the river. They
wanted some trails between recreation destinations for people to go
around some of the lakes," said planner Alex Taylor with Dillon
Biking and walking trails would be developed near communities so
people would have easy access to trail systems.
"They are fairly small-scale projects because the county wants to
do it in pieces here and there," Taylor said.
The open house was held to get public input on projects within the
- The Boomtown Zone would have a north-south trail linking Elnora to
Delburne to provide recreational opportunities along the way;
- The Palliser Zone creates a range of open spaces to connect Red Deer
to the Joffre Bridge. The Waskasoo Trails on the east side of the city
would connect with the Palliser Zone;
- The Ghost Pine Zone would create an east-west connection from C&E
Zone, anchored by Penhold, through Pine Lake and onto the Boomtown Zone;
- The CPR Zone would provide a range of open spaces and connect Benalto
with Sylvan Lake and Red Deer;
- The C & E Zone would be a north-south connection along the C & E
Trail. The zone would connect with Bowden-Dickson, CPR and Ghost Pine
- The Medicine River Zone would highlight Stephansson House and
Markerville with a connection between Spruce View, Dickson and Gleniffer
- The Bowden-Dickson Zone provides a range of open spaces including
features such as the Little Red Deer River and Gleniffer Lake. The zone
connects the C & E Zone with the Medicine River Zone.
Maps for three trails already approved by the county were also on
They include a 3.6 km trail to be built from Springbrook to Penhold,
a 6.8 km trail between Spruce View and Dickson and a one km trail at the
west end of Gleniffer Lake to provide public access to the Red Deer
People will have another opportunity to view all the maps at an
open house at the County Fair at Red Deer County Centre on Sept. 13.
Zone maps are not available on the county's website, but people can
go to Red Deer County Centre for information.
The Open Spaces Master Plan will go to county council for approval
February 4, 2008, Red Deer Advocate, by Paul Cowley
Rail trail pushed as tourism
An abandoned rail line west of Rocky Mountain House could be
transformed into a haven for hikers and cyclists lured by river-spanning
bridges amid spectacular mountain backdrops.
It's a vision that Clearwater County has been nurturing for years
and has recently been given a boost after council agreed to seek
provincial funding for a $100,000 design concept for a Nordegg to Rocky
While the potential of the trail has been recognized for many
years, the project remains in its infancy, cautions Ron Leaf, assistant
"This is really at the idea stage right now," he said.
About five years ago, the county did some basic surveying work to
see what shape the trail was in and how much work would be involved in
making it safe for outdoors enthusiasts, which could also include horse
and all-terrain vehicle riders.
Estimates for getting the 120-km route into shape range from $1
million to $2 million.
Among the challenges will be replacing decking on three rail
trestles, which would likely prove among the highlights for trail users.
"We did some preliminary engineering on those about five years
ago," he said. "Structurally, they appear sound, but we're going to have
to do some work there."
There are also two dozen stream crossings to contend with, as well
as sections of the old rail line where the ties have been left in place.
When completed, it is hoped an attraction could be created along
the lines of B.C.'s Kettle Valley Railroad, which is an abandoned
railway bed that winds for 600 km through south central B.C. between
Midway and Hope.
Leaf said there is much the Rocky trail could offer. There are a
number of small former mining communities along the route and it is
hoped the trail could be connected with existing attractions such as
Chambers Creek Park.
Leaf said groups such as Alberta TrailNet could also be recruited
to participate in turning the route into a destination for those seeking
healthy living travel options.
If the project goes ahead, it is expected the trail 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 route
would need to be mapped out.
Negotiations would also be necessary with forestry companies, whose
timber rights cross the rail line.
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