Trans Canada Trail in
Rails to Trails
History of CARTS
Friends of Trails
Media News re trails 2011
Nov. 29, 2011,
Springbrook-Waskasoo Life online magazine
CARTS Meets With Penhold Council About Trans Canada
representatives from Central Alberta Regional Trails Society (CARTS) met
with Penhold Council yesterday to discuss the importance of getting the
Springbrook-Penhold Trail, a key link in the Trans Canada Trail system,
back on track. The Springbrook-Penhold Trail was stalled earlier this
year when Red Deer County decided not to continue with construction
until Penhold determined where and how it would link the town's planned
trails with the County trail.
The trail along Range Road 281 from the
completed Springbrook natural area trail to Highway 592 was to have been
completed this year but was postponed when the County learned that the
Town wasn't prepared to link the community trail system with that
location in the foreseeable future. The town prefers to link with
Springbrook either along Highway 2A or Range Road 280 which would
involve a pedestrian crossing of Highway 2A where the speed limit is 100
CARTS President Debbie Olsen of Lacombe and Vice-President Paul
Pettypiece of Springbrook encouraged the town to participate in
discussions with other communities including Red Deer County to resolve
In addition, plans are currently underway to determine a
trail route linking Penhold with Innisfail as well as communities
further south. CARTS representatives and the trail consultant hired by
Trans Canada Trail met with Innisfail town council last month.
October 18, 2011, Innisfail
Trails association asks council
to get on board
Representatives from the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society
(CARTS) and the Trans Canada Trail were on hand Oct. 11 for a
presentation to Innisfail Town Council.
CARTS president Debbie Olsen and Trans Canada Trail foundation's
central Alberta coordinator Derry Armstrong appeared before council to
ask for its support completing the section of the trail between Penhold
and Olds and to appoint a representative from council and a town staff
member to work with surrounding municipalities to complete the trail.
Armstrong said while much of the trail around Red Deer is largely
complete, the section from Penhold to Innisfail and Innisfail to Olds
are just in the planning stages.
"We really want to fire things up and get it to move forward,"
Armstrong said, noting that the trail is scheduled to be completed by
Councillors agreed to name a rep at the Oct. 24 council meeting.
September 28, 2011, Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye, Ponoka News
CARTS builds roads, but not for
If you thought it might be a good idea to take your mountain bike
for a road trip to Red Deer, chances are the thought of travelling on a
major highway or on a gravel road changed your mind before leaving the
The Central Alberta Regional Trails Society (CARTS) might be able
CARTS' goal is to set up a trail network from Red Deer to
surrounding towns, including Ponoka. Eventually someone could walk from
Ponoka to Red Deer and then to Sylvan Lake, safely, if they felt the
need. Residents of Ponoka already have the benefit of the old C & E
trail following Highway 2A to Morningside, and people can be seen using
the trail with their horses and bikes.
The committee met recently in Ponoka to discuss plans and inspect
the Ponoka trail to see its size and layout. John Jacobs, a member of
Alberta TrailNet, which gives feedback to CARTS, said the challenge is
getting approval from Alberta Transportation.
Right now, trail development must be approved by Alberta
Transportation as many proposed trails are on the highway right of way.
Jacobs said other provinces have created a trail system because the
public is using it, but Alberta has never been interested in doing this.
People are bringing their bikes here and riding them on the highway.
Jacobs said he once had a tenant who would ride his bicycle to
visit his mother in Lacombe. When he asked the man which way he went,
the tenant informed him the only way to go was on the Queen Elizabeth II
highway. Jacobs then decided to get involved with Alberta TrailNet and
"I don't think bicycles should be on the highway, and Alberta
Transportation is rethinking the right of way rules", he explained.
Many of the plans for these paths parallel highway roads, off to
the side, but since there are no major trails, people are using the
breakdown lane. Alberta has realized people will use the roads or the
paths and if it is possible to make it safe for them, they will. Jacobs
did say it has been a fairly lengthy process to raise awareness of the
benefits of the trails, and the motion to get these trails built in
Many municipalities are working together and the momentum is
growing because of it.
September 8, 2011, Red Deer
Lacombe-Blackfalds trail delayed
A new trail between Lacombe and Blackfalds will have to wait until
Lacombe County had hoped to build the six-km link this summer, but
final details on a route have not yet been completed, said Phil
Lodermeier, the county's manager of operations.
"We're still in land negotiations," he said on Wednesday.
Lodermeier said the county met with landowners along the proposed route
on the long weekend and the county is getting closer to getting all of
the neighbours on board.
The county must also get approval from federal officials with the
Lacombe Research Centre. There is plenty of support there for the trail,
which will run through a portion of research centre property, however
all the paperwork has not been completed.
"It's just a case of crossing the t's and dotting the i's," he
The summer's heavy rainfalls and the large amount of repair work
required on county roads also got in the way of the trail project.
The paved walking and biking trail will provide a link to trails
being built in Blackfalds and Lacombe and would become part of a route
that will one day stretch 70 km from Penhold to Ponoka.
A pair of pedestrian bridges across the Battle and Blindman Rivers
have already been built.
Lodermeier hopes to begin construction on the link as soon as
weather permits in the spring.
"So we're not there yet, but we're making progress."
August 6, 2011, Paul Cowley,
Red Deer Advocate
Counties linking communities by trail
When local walking trail boosters gathered a few years ago, the prospect
of creating a network of paths in Central Alberta looked doubtful,
admits Paul Pettypiece, vice-president of Central Alberta Regional
"Getting rural trails done is a bit of a challenge. But a lot of
progress has been made."
Lacombe County is just one of the municipalities that has stepped
up to the trail-making challenge in recent years.
"For rural trails, Lacombe County has definitely taken the lead on
that," he says. "We're quite thrilled to work with them."
This year, Lacombe County planned to build a six-km link between
Blackfalds and Lacombe, adding another piece to a project begun the
previous year with the construction of bridges over the Blindman and
The paved walking and biking trail will provide a link to trails
being built in Blackfalds and Lacombe and would become part of a route
that will one day stretch 70 km from Penhold to Ponoka.
Whether the county will get the Blackfalds-to-Lacombe trail done
this year is uncertain.
Phil Lodermeier, the county's manager of operations, says the
county has been busy dealing with washed-out roads and other problems
brought on by the summer's heavy rainfalls. That has not left much time
to finalize rights-of-way with landowners and work out other details
necessary before construction can start.
Work may get underway later this summer, but a 2012 start gets more
likely as the summer progresses. Lodermeier said he's less concerned
about getting started this year than he is just keeping the momentum
"If it were to happen next year, I'd be happy with that."
It is hoped the portion from Lacombe to Ponoka can be built in
Linking the communities meant building two pedestrian bridges. The
Battle River bridge in Ponoka was completed in 2009 and a similar bridge
over the Blindman River further south was finished in the spring 2010.
The Town and County of Ponoka are also working together to build a
trail south from the town to the southern border of the county, a route
that will include a link with the J.J. Collett Natural Area.
"Eventually, from the nature centre to the Town of Lacombe will be
completed. But we don't have a timeline on that yet," says Pettypiece.
Those projects are only part of the trail building planned.
Red Deer County has also shown enthusiasm for establishing trails
in rural areas.
The county has adopted an Open Spaces Master Plan that embraces the
idea of linking communities with a trail network.
Trails are proposed connecting Springbrook to Penhold and Spruce
View to Dickson, and a Cottonwood day-use area near Dickson Dam.
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 Glennifer Lake to provide public access to the Red Deer
Mayor Jim Wood says it was hoped that the Springbrook link would
happen this year but it has been put on hold for now. The county was
reluctant to build its trail before Penhold has completed its own
section to the south. That is not expected to happen until a future
industrial park is developed just north of the town on the west side of
The Spruce View-to-Dickson link is also still on the planning table
but no firm start date has been proposed. It will be reviewed each year
by council at budget time, as will the shorter trail near Glennifer
Another gap to be filled is a link with the City of Red Deer and
"So far, there is no immediate plan for a trail between Springbrook
and Red Deer, although there's several plans that show different ways
that can be done," Pettypiece says. "We're looking actually at several
different ways that link can be made."
The trails society is also looking at ways to extend a route from
Penhold to Innisfail.
"Innisfail already has trails that are registered as part of the
TransCanada Trail system, so now it's just a matter of linking up
Penhold with Innisfail somehow," he says, adding a number of
alternatives are being considered.
Trail boosters have reason for some of their heightened optimism.
The federal government has made it known it wants to see a TransCanada
Trail in place by the nation's 150th anniversary in 2017. Millions of
dollars are set aside for trail building.
"We're quite happy that some money has been committed for that.
That gives us a lot of excitement and hope and momentum.
"There's going to have to be a lot of work done for that to happen
but we're working towards that."
By 2017, the society would like to see the trails completed at
least from Ponoka to Penhold and, with hope, to Innisfail.
"Then there are some other linkages that have to be done as well.
Like where does it go from Innisfail south? We still have to work on
A route between Wetaskiwin and Ponoka must also be found. It still
hasn't been determined if it would go through Hobbema or take another
path to connect with existing trails in the Wetaskiwin area.
"So there is a lot to be done but considering where we were five
years ago . . . we were starting to get discouraged by these rural
"We've really come a long way."
Further west, planning work is underway on a trail from Rocky
Mountain House to Nordegg.
The proposed 125-km trail would largely follow an abandoned
railroad line and pass through several historic settlements such as
Horburg, Alcuno, Alexo, Saunders and Phoenix.
The biggest obstacle right now is cost.
Mike Haugen, Clearwater County's community and protective services
manager, said council is looking for ways to reduce the $6 million cost
of building the trail. County staff are looking at ways to pare down the
size of the project and searching for other funding through industry
partnerships and grants from federal and provincial governments.
There is no time line on when trail construction will begin. The
three-metre-wide trail will have washrooms, garbage cans, picnic sites,
signage and a few remote campsites. The route would be open to motorized
and non-motorized traffic.
July 30, 2011, Paul Cowley, Red Deer Advocate
Rural trail project stalls
Red Deer County route on hold until Penhold development proceeds
A proposed trail between Springbrook and Penhold has run into a
Red Deer County had planned to build the 3.6 km link this year. The
route would have been along Range Road 281, about 1.5 km east of Hwy 2A.
All the necessary planning and rights-of-way are in place and $757,000
was set aside in this year's budget.
However, those plans ran into problems because the Town of Penhold
said it could not build a necessary east-west link along Secondary Hwy
592 until the area slated for industrial and commercial use is
developed, said County Mayor Jim Wood. It's not clear when that might
"The time frame was unknown. So I drafted a letter from my office
to (Penhold Mayor Dennis Cooper) that indicated we weren't going to be
able to proceed at this particular time."
Wood said the problem doesn't just rest with Penhold.
"There were other aspects of that trail that were also posing
problems. I'm not trying to blame it on Penhold," said Wood.
Among the issues the municipality is wrestling with is how to
create a safe crossing at Hwy 2A. The county wants the crossing to be at
the town where speeds are lower, which limits choices.
"We really tried hard to figure out a way to make this thing
happen. But it just doesn't look like it's going to work until they are
prepared to put their trail system in," said Wood.
Cooper said it could be some time before development happens on the
industrial land, so the town suggested the route be moved further east
to Range Road 280. Many people already use that road to get to the
Penhold Regional Multiplex and that route would hook into trails being
built in the town.
Another option considered would be to move the route east of Hwy
2A. But the county is reluctant to put the trail there because it would
mean crossing Hwy 2A near Springbrook, at a spot where highway speeds
Cooper said another alternative would be to use an abandoned
roadbed next to the railway tracks that run on the west side of Hwy 2A
as a route.
Even if the county doesn't like the other options, they should go
ahead with the trail on Range Road 281, he said.
"If they've acquired the right-of-ways and that, then build the
trail. That's my feeling.
"No, we're not going to connect it right away, but we'll eventually
connect to it."
Cooper said Penhold and the county will continue to look at a way
to make the trail happen.
"Our dialogue definitely isn't over. We're going to continue to try
to figure out how to get around this."
May 17, 2011, Johnnie Bachusky,
Mountain View Gazette
Opposition comes forward to
Mintlaw Bridge preservation
Red Deer County has hired a consultant to study the possible future
uses for the historically significant Mintlaw trestle bridge -- but
one of the municipality's most famous citizens is dead set against
making the ancient structure a promoted public attraction for a new
"I'm still opposed to making it a public park. It's not set up to be
a recreation park," said Jack Donald, whose home is literally
situated in the shadow of the bridge, which was for many years
unused and forgotten.
"The other thing is that the bridge is inherently dangerous," added
Donald, founder of Parkland Income Trust, and now president and
chief executive officer of Parkland Properties Ltd. "Somebody is
going to get hurt or even killed."
Last month, the county hired RC Strategies, an Edmonton consultant
company, to gather stakeholder and landowner input on the bridge's
long-term preservation, its possible future uses and whether there
should be public access from both its east and west entry points.
The study will cost the county $50,000 and will be finished by the
end of the year.
Jo-Ann Symington, the county's community services manager, said the
process will include discussions with all interest groups, including
historical societies, trail groups and property owners in the area,
including the Donald family.
"This is an opportunity for the public to comment. They (historical
and trail societies) view the bridge as an important historical
investment, and now that we have acquired it we want to find out its
best future use. As we move through this process that will be
determined," said Symington.
In 2009 the county purchased the bridge for $1. Built in 1912, the
structure, located seven kilometres southwest of Red Deer, was
originally owned by the Alberta Central Railway, and later, the
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. With a span of 633 metres across the
Red Deer River and towering 33 metres above the waterway below, the
railway bridge is the second longest of its kind in Alberta, after
the one in Lethbridge. Considered one of Central Alberta's few
remaining relics to the Age of Steam, the last train to cross the
bridge was in 1981.
Two months ago the county spent $122,800 to prop up the west end of
the bridge, which was sagging under the crushing weight of steel
girders from above and the ongoing deterioration of decades-old
timber supports. It is estimated that a further $2 million of work
still needs to be done on the bridge to make it user-friendly for
the public. Many years ago several metres at both ends of the bridge
were removed to ensure visitor safety, particularly for the many
young people who frequent the site.
For now, however, the county wants to find out how the antique
structure can fit in with the many ideas that have recently come to
There have been suggestions the bridge could be an integral part of
a trail system between the City of Red Deer and Sylvan Lake for
hikers, walkers and cyclists.
The structure is also considered an important component for the
ambitions of the Forth Junction Heritage Society, a group dedicated
to preserving and promoting the region's transportation history and
to making Central Alberta a world-class heritage destination.
"The bridge definitely is a vital piece of heritage. It and the
cement pillar on Taylor Drive (in Red Deer) are the only things left
from the Alberta Central Railway," said Paul Pettypiece, the
society's president. "In fact many people don't even know where the
Pettypiece said the concerns of landowners in the area of the bridge
will have to be addressed before any action plan on future use is
Meanwhile, Donald wonders why the county has taken on such a large
project that could come at great expense to ratepayers when a
significant benefit will be for citizens of the City of Red Deer,
which has not committed any resources or funds to any plans and
processes to have the bridge preserved.
"Many people don't seem to understand the implications of this,"
said Donald, noting the bridge has a serious rust problem and is in
dire need of sandblasting and new paint. "The county has no budget
in place for things like fencing, or for providing all the things
people need, like toilets and garbage cans and telephones. You have
to look after these things.
"I don't think proper preparations have been made."
May 5, 2011, Lisa Joy, Lacombe Globe
County trails face opposition
Lacombe County is having ongoing discussions with landowners to
clear the way for the Central Alberta Trail System and trails throughout
"For the most part we have a trail but there are just a few links
missing," Phil Lodermeier, county manager of operations told council at
its April 28 meeting.
About 66 people attended an open house on April 13 to view displays
from Trans Canada Trail, Alberta Trailnet, City of Lacombe, Town of
Blackfalds, and Lacombe County.
Lodermeier said a few landowners are opposed to the trail.
"Some people who are opposed do not even live near the trail," said
Lodermeier. "There is a fear of what may happen."
Issues of concern included use and noise of motorized vehicles,
destruction of the lakeshore, and upkeep and maintenance.
Thirteen residents signed a petition against the trail saying they
are opposed to the location along Range Road 272.
"We are trying to be as flexible as we can with landowners,"
Lodermeier said. "This is an amenity people want to see."
The county will spend $603,834 from the trails reserve fund and
$83,269 from the operating budget for the trail system.
In 2008 the trail system in central Alberta became a part of the
TransCanada Trail after CARTS registered 70.6 kilometres of trail as TCT.
They include: 7.1 kilometres in Lacombe, 5.2 kilometres in Ponoka, 16
kilometres in Red Deer County, 23.8 kilometres in Lacombe County, and
18.5 kilometres in Ponoka County.
Apr. 19, 2011, Red Deer
Lacombe County trail receives
Lacombe County residents are giving mixed reviews to their section
of a trail system, now under construction, that will run from Penhold to
Lacombe County has completed the section from the Blindman River to
Blackfalds, with two more sections to go. The next section runs from
Blackfalds to Lacombe with the final section to run from Lacombe to
It is hoped that the trail will be able to connect with the J.J.
Collett Natural Area, a 635-acre forest just south interspersed with
sand dunes and criss-crossed with its own trail system, located south of
Final routing will depend on the agreements with landowners from
whom the county will have to purchase rights of way to build the trail.
The county is basing the compensation it will pay on the same
compensation package in place for construction of roads, said Hager.
While there is strong support from some people, others are
concerned about issues including potential for trespassing on private
property, garbage left along the trail and liability issues.
Past experience in areas where public trails already exist shows
that people who use them tend to go out of their way to pick up any
trash they see lying about, said Hager.
Additionally, the county will place receptacles so people feel less
inclined to leave juice boxes and candy wrappers on the trail, he said.
One landowner had expressed concern about the amount of
compensation he would be paid. The county is working that out with him,
Mar. 9, 2011, Ponoka News, by
Bridging the gap: Ponoka offers
first rate trails
The spotting of two new bridges will help further the completion of the
Trans Canada Trail (TCT) south of Ponoka.
The TCT will eventually connect the country coast-to-coast, weaving
its way through 10 provinces and three territories.
The latest bridges connect Ponoka to Morningside and offer local
residents a trail to walk, bike or ride.
"Ninety-five per cent of the people that use this trail are going
to be locals. It's going to be the person in Morningside taking their
horses to our new ag building," said Coun. John Jacobs. "We will have
one of the best equestrian trails in the world."
The 60-foot bridge was built by Bruce Harbin Welding and was put in
place on March 1 and is fully portable, spanning across a man-made creek
just south of the airport. Harbin turned the installation of the bridge
into a family affair after school was cancelled in the Wolf Creek School
"Foreman Levi Harbin, he's been a big help carrying around bolts
and running the site," said Bruce with a smile, talking about his son.
Young Levi might be one of the future users of the trail, one of
the benefits that Jacobs said couldn't be ignored when Ponoka decided to
become a part of the project.
"It gives people, of all ages a chance to be active and there are
several future economic advantages. It puts us on the TCT map," said
The exposure may also mean some travellers from overseas. Harbin
believes bikers from across the world may come to central Alberta for a
chance to ride the trails. He still believes the trails would be used by
locals the majority of the time, but thought the opportunity to show
some of the natural beauty of the area was a positive.
Jacobs has heard concerns regarding the cleanliness of the trail
but is confident the people who use the trail will help keep it clean.
(Photo by Ponoka News staff - A bridge is put in place as part of the
Trans Canada Trail just south of Ponoka on Highway 2A. Bruce Harbin
Welding manufactured the bridge that will allow residents to ride horses
from as far south as Morningside, direct to the new Ponoka Agriculture
Mar. 9, 2011, Red Deer Advocate, by Laura Tester
Pedestrian, cyclist path
A separated pedestrian and cyclist path will be constructed as part
of a $500-million project to build a ring road along Red Deer's east
On Monday, Red Deer city council endorsed the design called Option
A2 to build a separate cyclist/pedestrian path on one side of the road,
with the path widening to five metres from 3.5 metres over the CN rail
bridge and the Red Deer River bridge.
The road, which the city has dubbed the north highway connector,
will not be built for many years due to financial constraints.
But council was told it's important to consider the paths since
detailed design of the road is underway.
The road, which will eventually become a six-lane expressway, will
be built from the Hwy 2/Hwy 11A interchange to the Hwy2/McKenzie Road
City manager Craig Curtis supported this option to have a dedicated
cyclist path adjacent to the combined-use path, plus widening for the
path along the bridge to make it safer.
City Councillor Paul Harris said he'd like to see these paths on
both sides of the road, although it would be costlier.
His concern is that people will attempt to cross the main road to
get to the pathway on the other side.
"My big concern is whether those bike paths and walking paths are
actually in the right place because we tend to build them right beside
the highway," Harris added.
"There seems to be a disconnect. Even in this design, they could
put shrubs and trees and really separate the path and road like they've
done along Memorial Drive in Calgary."
Russ Wlad, vice-president for Stantec Consulting Engineers of Red
Deer, said the path is slated to happen on one side of the road, but
there may be future provisions to allow for the cyclist/pedestrian path
to occur on both sides.
Mar. 1, 2011, Red Deer Advocate
Lacombe County will address the pros and cons of trail development
at an upcoming open house.
The rural municipality has embarked on a project to create a paved
trail linking Blackfalds and Lacombe. Last June, a $300,000 pedestrian
bridge was opened over the Blindman River. A two-km stretch of trail was
built from the river to the edge of Blackfalds.
A similar bridge over the Battle River was put in place a few
months earlier near Ponoka and last December, the county approved
$700,000 to build a six-km paved link between Blackfalds and Lacombe.
The bridges and trails are part of a long-term plan to build a 70-km
trail between Ponoka and Penhold as part of the Trans Canada Trail
County commissioner Terry Hager said the April 13 open house will
bring residents up to speed on the progress of the Central Alberta Trail
System. The event is also meant to provide a forum to discuss the
advantages and pitfalls of developing trails.
Not all landowners have been enthusiastic about the prospect of a
public walking area next to their land. Concerns about trespassing,
littering and unleashed dogs have been raised, said Hager. There have
also been questions about what liability landowners face if they allow a
trail on their land.
The county has had to alter its trail route in some cases after
running resistance from landowners. The trail to Lacombe was to run up
the west side of Lacombe Lake but had to be diverted to the east side
because of property owner opposition. An east side trail will allow an
unused day area to become part of the system.
The final route has not yet been determined and the open house will
allow for public input.
The meeting takes place on April 13 at Lacombe County Council
Chambers on Hwy 12 about four km west of Hwy 2. It begins at 6 p.m. and
the county will make a half-hour presentation at 7 p.m. to be followed
Feb. 14, 2011, Lacombe Globe, by Treena Mielke
Blackfalds council alters
Slight realignment through Broadway Avenue
The plan for a TransCanada Trail route proposed to run down
Broadway Avenue in the town of Blackfalds has been altered slightly, but
Mayor Melodie Stol said the change is positive.
At its regular meeting, Tuesday, council complied with a
recommendation by the Recreation, Culture and Parks board to realign the
plan for the trail to the north and south corridors of the town.
"It will eventually join up to the Red Deer trail system to the
south and in the north it will meander through Lacombe County which goes
through Lacombe Lake and into the City of Lacombe's trail system, said
Sean Barnes, director of community services.
"The new route ends up being a more scenic route," said Stol. "The
original route we had selected in our trail master plan did not align
with the south corridor to Red Deer and the new pedestrian bridge
located on Range Road 27-3. It also does not align with the proposed
TransCanada Trail around Aspen Lake and the future field house.
When completed, the aligned TransCanada Trail (within Blackfalds)
will consist of approximately seven kilometres running through the west
side of town linking the City of Red Deer and the City of Lacombe.
Barnes said approximately one kilometre of trail adjacent to Vista
Trail and South Street will be completed this year. He added that two
kilometres of trails have already been completed within the town.
Barnes is pleased the TransCanada Trail is to run through the
proposed Field House itself.
"It's located in the area of an old tree farm and it has lots of
In her report to council, Blackfalds CAO Corinne Newman said
according to the TransCanada Trail committee this portion of the trail
is the first to go through a recreation facility.
Barnes said a final date for completion of the trail and the field
house hasn't been established.
"Hopefully it will be in two or three years," he said.
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