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Media News re trails 2012


Fall 2012, Alberta TrailTracker excerpts, Alberta TrailNet

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals
Congratulations to Alberta Medal Recipients
   The National Trails Coalition was invited by the Governor General's office to nominate 30 volunteers who have played a significant role in improving Canada's trail infrastructure. Our congratulations to the four Albertans who were honoured on receiving this award and our thanks to them and to all other NTC project participants for the work they have done and continue to do in partnership with their associations and communities. This work has resulted in improved community infrastructure and recreation opportunities for all Albertans.
. . .  Debbie Olsen, who is President of the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society, has been awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work on the Trans Canada Trail in Central Alberta. Debbie has worked tirelessly over the past 10 years bringing municipalities and trail stakeholders together to advance trail development in central Alberta. With Debbie's leadership and support and federal funding  provided in part under the National Trails Coalition grant program, three key Trans Canada Trail projects were completed including bridges over the Blindman and Battle Rivers and trail development in the Town of Ponoka.

Lacombe Blackfalds Trail Paving Complete
by Lantry Vaughan, Lacombe County
   Paving is now complete on the Lacombe-Blackfalds portion of the Trans Canada Trail. The trail, which weaves its way south of Lacombe through the Lacombe Research Station, west along Lacombe Lake and down to the northern boundary of Blackfalds will tie into the Town of Blackfalds and City of Lacombe trail systems and connect to the Trans Canada Trail system which links Canadian communities through a system of regional networks.
   After years of planning and negotiations County crews started constructing the 8 km pedestrian trail from Blackfalds to Lacombe on August 9. Foundation work on the trail was completed as of August 31. A local paving contractor (Lahrmann Construction Ltd.) completed paving on Wednesday, September 26.
   With paving complete, County forces will install amenities like park benches, picnic tables, garbage receptacles, and signs along the trail. A bathroom will b installed later in the year once it is available.
   Interpretive signage will be installed in early 2013, once design and subject matter for the signs has been developed. The signs will highlight historically significant locations and will point out the flora and fauna that may be of interest to trail users. The total estimated cost of the trail is $931,338, with Lacombe County crews, equipment and materials contributing $377,338 of this amount and the paving accounting for the balance of $554,000. "Trans Canada Trail, Central Alberta Regional Trails Society (CARTS) and Agriculture Canada have been invaluable partners in the planning and development of this section of trail," said Phil Lodermeier, Lacombe County Operations Manager. The Trans Canada Trail provided a grant of $288,790.14 for the trail project.

Lacombe County Receives Alberta TrailNet's Trail Blazer Award 2012
   Lacombe County was honoured with the prestigious Trail Blazer award at Alberta TrailNet Society's Annual General Meeting on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at the Cronquist House, Red Deer, AB. Paula Law, Deputy Reeve, accepted the award on behalf of Lacombe County.
   Lacombe County has taken on the challenging but rewarding task of building a long distance portion of the Trans Canada Trail through the County. They have faced challenges with securing landowner agreements and have encountered opposition from small sectors of local residents. Despite occasional setbacks, Lacombe County has successfully achieved many of its trail development goals. Over the past few years trail was constructed from the Blindman River to the Town of Blackfalds. This included a pedestrian bridge, a day use area and 2 km of paved trail. This past summer the trail was built from the north corporate limits of the Town of Blackfalds to the south corporate limits of the City of Lacombe. This section follows the east shores of Lacombe Lake and further north the trail runs through one of the oldest Federal Agriculture Research Stations in Canada. The trail includes two sections of boardwalk combined with a small viewing platform on the Lacombe Lake section.
   Ross Hayes, President of Alberta TrailNet said, "We are proud to acknowledge Lacombe County's work in trail development in Central Alberta. Their achievements in trail development are truly something to be celebrated."
   Each year, Alberta TrailNet presents the annual Trail Blazer Award to an individual, organization or entity that has made significant contributions to, and demonstrated long standing commitment and involvement in, trail planning and development in Alberta. In selecting the recipient Alberta TrailNet recognizes that Trail Blazer accomplishments often reflect the contributions and commitment of staff, elected representatives, community trail builders, and stakeholders and volunteers within that community.
   Alberta TrailNet has proudly presented the Trail Blazer Award since 1997. The award, created by sculptor Rick Silas, is a beautiful large hand-carved wooden hiking boot on a tree stump that features the names of the award winners engraved on brass plaques. Each award recipient receives a smaller unique hand-carved wooden replica of the large Trail Blazer Award made by sculptor Ilb Rasmussen.

Bassano Historic Train Station Relocated to Beiseker
   The Alberta 2005 Centennial Railway Museum Society (RMS) is that much closer to realizing its dream of having a museum building. A historic CPR train station, circa 1911, was moved from Bassano to the west side of Beiseker on July 19, 2012, onto land provided by Alberta TrailNet Society through agreement with the Museum Society. The Bassano station was built as a standard size CPR station. At some point, it was expanded to 162 feet long (20 feet wide) and is one of the largest wooden CPR stations in Western Canada. The station will join other artifacts such as old railway cars obtained from the Canadian Pacific Railway and other sources.
   Fred Walters, Beiseker councillor, longtime resident of Beiseker and member of RMS indicated that the restoration of the future museum will cost approximately $200,000. The Society will be constructing a 300 foot platform that will be attached to the station as well as laying rail ties to mimic what the station looked like about 100 years ago. The basement foundation has been constructed, but it will be some months before the railway station museum is moved onto the foundation. Restoration of the building's roof will occur in the near future.
   Mammoet Movers oversaw the relocation of the building with a crew of seven. The move cost approximately $400,000 which came from government grants and community fundraising. Once the building arrived in Beiseker, Mammoet measured and set up steel barrels to support the building in its temporary location. According to Walters, the successful move followed three or four previous attempts to move the train station which had to be postponed due to permitting and equipment problems. . . .


Oct. 25, 2012, Lacombe County Reeve Ken Wigmore, Lacombe Globe

Students take to the trail
   Grade 5 and 6 elementary students from Terrace Ridge School took time out of their busy day on Oct. 9 to venture along the new Lacombe County trail, which weaves its way south of Lacombe through the Lacombe Research Station, west along Lacombe Lake, and down to the northern boundary of Blackfalds.
   The trail will eventually connect to the TransCanada Trail system, linking Canadian communities through a system of regional networks. Lacombe County council believes the new trail will provide a source of much-needed recreation and a hub of learning for the local community.
   Construction of the trail by county crews began last spring, and paving was completed in September. County staff will install amenities like park benches, picnic tables, garbage receptacles, and signs along the trail this fall, and a bathroom will be installed later in the year once it is available.
   To develop the trail as a learning hub, Lacombe County, the Lacombe Research Centre and the Central Alberta Recreational Trail Society have joined forces to develop interpretive signage for the trail.
   These three agencies will be aided by the Terrace Ridge School, Lacombe Upper Elementary School, and Blackfalds Iron Ridge Junior Campus, to develop interpretive signage identifying flora and fauna at various points along the newly constructed trail. The students are being asked to identify which plants and animals are here in their own backyards and to help decide the content for the signs.
   The project is not only a great fit with their curriculum, since the Grade 5 classes are currently learning about lakes and wetlands and the Grade 6 classes are focusing on trees, but it also gives them an opportunity to explore the local area and help develop education resources for others.
   The first of what may be many field trips to come was held on Oct. 9 with about 100 students. Highlights of the day included a talk focusing on local flora and fauna and wetland health by Lacombe Research Centre horticulturalist Paul Martin and Lacombe County environmental coordinator Blayne West. Debbie Olsen president of the Central Alberta Recreational Trails Society, explained to the students how they would be contributing to the interpretive signage program.
   It is anticipated that more than 200 students will participate in the project over the fall and winter.
   All of the students participating in the program have been invited back for a workshop in June 2013 to view the newly developed signs and to meet with local naturalists to learn more about the plants and wildlife in Central Alberta.
   County council and staff are proud of the new trail, and excited at the community spirit shown by our partners in helping to develop content for the interpretive signage, which is expected to be installed by county crews next summer.

Sept. 26, 2012, Cayley Dobie, Lacombe Globe
CUC hosts annual run in support of Lacombe trails
   The fourth annual Lacombe in Motion run hits the trails Sept. 30 to encourage residents of Lacombe to get active.
   "The purpose is to promote health and fitness in Lacombe and surrounding areas," said Dr. Klaus Irrgang, one of the organizers of the event and a professor at Canadian University College (CUC).
   In past years, Lacombe in Motion has attracted more than 200 people to come out and run either a half-marathon, 10 km, 5 km or 2 km.
   "It's a run (and) walk, (but) most people run," said Klaus.
   Anyone who runs the half-marathon, 10 km or 5 km, will receive a runner's package that includes a chip-timer to track how long it takes to run your distance.
   And while there is a fee to register, all the money goes to improve Lacombe's trails.
"We are putting up exercise stations around Elizabeth Lake," said Irrgang. "As well, (those) are flooded, so we are raising the trails."
   These improvements to the trail system in Lacombe are important, said Irrgang. Raising the trails around Elizabeth Lake will prevent future flooding so that everyone can enjoy them.
"(The run) promotes our trails," said Irrgang. "And so I think it benefits the whole community and fosters community spirit."
   Last year, more than 300 people participated in the run and walk event, so getting people out isn't an issue. The run, however, can be quite the challenge, said Irrgang, many people train prior to race day.
   "Since we're going on pretty rough trails -- halfway, at least -- it's actually a pretty tough half-marathon," he said.
   And while Lacombe in Motion does attract a few half-marathoners, the majority of participants run, or walk, the 10 km route. All routes start at CUC across from the gym, and then head south around Barnett Lake. The 10 km and half-marathon continues north, up and around Henner's Pond.

July 4, 2012, Renee Francoeur, Red Deer Advocate
Money set for trail
Nordegg to Rocky Mountain House Multi-Use Trail

   The Nordegg to Rocky Mountain House multi-use trail is one step closer to becoming a reality after additional funds were allocated for the construction of a trail staging area to begin later this year.
   Clearwater County council passed a motion at its June 12 meeting to re-allocate $125,588 from contingency to the economic development budget to begin the development of the staging area, where people can park their vehicles and horse or ATV trailers.
   Public Works staff expect the staging area development to cost anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000.
   The trail, slated to be three metres wide at minimum, is expected to cost $6.8 million.
   It will largely follow an abandoned railway bed between Rocky and the hamlet of Nordegg.
   Tyler McKinnon, community services manager for Clearwater County, presented the plans for the trail at council.
   He noted that given the scope of the project, the trail will be completed in various stages as more funding becomes available.
   Earlier this year, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation approved $50,000 in grants toward the staging area and connector sections of the trail at the western end, said McKinnon.
   The province also approved an additional $100,000 to go towards the trail development heading east from the Nordegg town site.
   Clearwater Council also budgeted $90,000 to add to the provincial funding for the project.
   The staging area will be along the Forestry Trunk Road, south of Hwy 11, in the north end of the Nordegg Industrial Subdivision.
   Construction will begin on two existing lots already owned by the county.
   The carrying cost for these lots is valued at $62,794 each, said McKinnon.
   According to Mike Haugen, Clearwater County's community and protective services director, the first official dig for the staging area is expected to start later this year, although no exact date was given.
   The trail itself will be developed later, noted Haugen.

June 27, 2012, Lacombe Globe
Lacombe County Receives Alberta Trailnet Award
   Lacombe County has received the Alberta TrailNet Society's annual Trail Blazer Award in recognition of the county's exemplary work in trail development in Alberta. The Trail Blazer Award was presented at the society's annual general meeting June 2 at the historic Cronquist House at Bower Ponds in Red Deer.

May 9, 2012, Red Deer Advocate
County councillor joins trail committee
   A committee looking at setting up a trail between Penhold and Bowden has received some support from Red Deer County.
   Council voted on Tuesday to include Coun. David Hoar and the county's community services manager on the committee.
   It is hoped a consultant can be hired to do a concept and feasibility study for a link between Penhold and Bowden. The study could cost $20,000 to $25,000. Up to 70 per cent of that cost might be covered by grants from Alberta Trail Net and Trans Canada Trail Foundation, with the municipalities sharing the rest of the bill.
   Several councillors expressed reluctance to commit county money towards the project without knowing more about cost-sharing.
   Council agreed it should have representatives on the committee, but stopped short of making any financial commitment.

April 23, 2012, Paul Cowley, Red Deer Advocate
Lacombe-Blackfalds Trail
New link for towns
   Walkers and cyclists will have a paved trail between Blackfalds and Lacombe by late summer.
   Lacombe County has already started work this spring on a long-awaited six-km link between the two communities, said Phil Lodermeier, the county's manager of operations.
   A couple of boardwalks have been built and some preliminary brushing done, and in about three weeks the major work will be done to create the base for the pavers.
   If all goes well, the $700,000 project could be ready by the end of August.
   Lodermeier predicted the public will like what they see when it's done.
   "It's going to be a beautiful trail. There's some really nice scenic spots along there.
   "And being able to go through the (Canada Agriculture Research Centre), they have some beautiful grounds there, and we're going to do some interpretive signage. So it's going to be a really nice trail."
   It was hoped that the trail could be done last year. But last-minute land negotiations and the wet spring that tied up county work crews caused delays and the project was put off until this year.
   Last summer, the county agreed to spend $41,000 to buy the last piece of land not privately owned on Lacombe Lake to become part of the trail and form a day-use site.
   "It's a fair-sized chunk of land and there is some spectacular scenery in there," he said. "Right now, it's in a real natural state and we're going to try to keep that as much as possible," he said, adding they won't pave trails in that area.
   A pedestrian bridge over the Blindman River and two km of trails were completed south of Blackfalds in 2010 as the first leg of the project.
   In 2009, a similar bridge over the Battle River was finished as part of the longer term plan to build a 70-km link between Penhold and Ponoka.
   Meanwhile, Penhold has picked where the Trans Canada Trail will go through the town.
   Town council recently approved a route that would bring the trail in on Range Road 281 and along Fleming Avenue to Penhold School.

April 17, 2012, Sylvia Cole, Mountain View Gazette
Red Deer County seeks partners to afford bridge access
   Future work on the Mintlaw Bridge will require funding from other associations, council heard last Tuesday.
   The bridge, purchased by Red Deer County for $1, has since had $205,000 invested in it for rehabilitation work while new estimates peg opening it up to pedestrian traffic as much as $3.2 million.
   Currently no one is allowed on or across the bridge which would link to part of a regional trail system connecting from Highway 2A to Benalto.
   During the April 10 regular council meeting, Mike Room with RC Strategies reported to council about a recent Public Access and Preservation Strategy.
   The study identified what repairs are necessary to allow for pedestrians and bicycle traffic and stakeholder and landowners' issues and concerns.
   While landowners' concerns were split -- 14 of 38 landowners said they wanted to see public access, 13 said no and 11 said they were unsure -- nine out of nine organizations said there should be access to and across the bridge.
   The cost, however, to allow access to and across the bridge is estimated between $2.7 and $3.2 million with an estimated annual operating and maintenance cost of $225,000 to $250,000.
   Access across the bridge was one of four potential options considered. The other options included disallow access, allow access to a viewpoint and the third, access just onto the bridge.
   While the study suggests access across would be best for the long term, allowing for a trail to attract tourists and the general public, it couldn't be done without assistance from other groups.
   Jo-Ann Symington, community services manager, explained to council that the county is accepting unsolicited proposals from potential partner groups interested in helping with the capital and operating costs.
   Eligible groups and organizations include non-profits, local government organizations, local economic development organizations and corporate organizations.

April 11, 2012, Paul Cowley, Red Deer Advocate
Mintlaw
County council looks at bridge as tourist attraction
Mintlaw Trestle - Fiedler Advocate photo   A former rail bridge across the Red Deer River is well suited as a scenic walkway, but the millions of dollars to make it happen must come from elsewhere, Red Deer County council agreed on Tuesday.
   Council voted in favour of accepting the recommendation of consultants to convert the former Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. span into a tourist attraction and link to walking trails, complete with viewing platforms and parking areas.
   The cost of upgrading the century-old bridge, which is about six km southwest of Red Deer, is estimated at $2.7 million to $3.2 million. Annual maintenance costs could range up to $250,000.
   At those prices, the county is not willing to go ahead with any upgrades without significant outside investment and proposals from groups willing to partner with the municipality, says a report from county staff. In anticipation of proposals, county administration is setting up a process to review them.
   Councillor Penny Archibald said she received calls from residents in the immediate vicinity concerned about the prospect of having large numbers of walkers drawn to the area. However, they agreed they had been given a chance to voice their misgivings during the consultation process and Archibald made the motion to accept the bridge study for information.
   Jo-Ann Symington, the county's community services manager, said the municipality will not solicit proposals for the bridge. But in anticipation of groups coming forward with ideas, a system will be set up to review submissions, which must be from legally established organizations.
   Construction on the bridge began in 1911 and the 633-metre span 33 metres above the river was finished the following year. It is the second longest railway bridge in Alberta, after one in Lethbridge.*
   The bridge saw its last train in 1981 and was sold to the county for $1 in 2009. Last year, the county spent about $123,000 replacing rotting wooden supports. In all, about $200,000 has been spent on preserving the bridge, which has been disconnected from the banks on each side as a safety precaution.
   Central Alberta Regional Trails Society vice-president Paul Pettypiece was encouraged that council had made a long-term commitment to making the bridge part of a regional trail system.
   "Obviously, I'd like to see it in the much shorter term," said Pettypiece.
   A couple of area groups plan to make proposals to "move it along a little faster," he said.        "Ultimately, it will be council's decision and we will have to work with that."
   Pettypiece expressed optimism that the will and potential for funding were available to get the project moving.
* Corrective Note: A correction in the April 14 edition of the Advocate states: "A story on the Mintlaw Bridge on A2 in the April 11 Advocate contains incorrect information. The bridge is the second longest CPR steel trestle bridge in Western Canada."
* Webmaster Note: In addition to being the 2nd longest CPR steel trestle in Western Canada, the bridge is the longest railway structure in Central Alberta, the third longest steel trestle of any railway in Western Canada and the 5th longest railway bridge of any kind in Alberta. (according to www.ForthJunction.com/acr-mintlaw-trestle.htm).
(Photo by Randy Fiedler, Red Deer Advocate - Red Deer County council will turn the Mintlaw Bridge into a tourist attraction, but not until a group steps forward to help with the multi-million-dollar cost of its refurbishment.)

April 10, 2012, Victoria Paterson, Innisfail Province
Trail route approved by council
   The proposed trail route for Penhold's section of the Trans Canada trail was approved and amended by town council during its meeting on March 26.
   The proposed trail route comes into town on Rge. Rd. 281 and would end up going along Fleming Avenue and connecting into Bouteiller Close.
   Coun. Kathy Sitter suggested the trail should extend along Fleming Avenue to the school, something council agreed to and passed.
   The route is part of Central Alberta Regional Trail Society (CARTS) overall plans to develop trails throughout Alberta. Red Deer County is participating and Penhold mayor Dennis Cooper explained in a later interview that the county wanted to ensure the trail would not just stop at the Penhold boundary.
   Cooper raised a concern about how to tell residents during the meeting. Rick Binnendyk, Penhold's chief administrative officer, said when the trail has appeared on plans displayed for public input there has been no negativity about the plan.
   "I think an open house would be a great idea or bring it up at our next community breakfast," said Coun. Chad Hoffman.
   Binnendyk suggested to council an open house or similar event not be held until the funds are assured.
   Cooper said extending the trail to the school is only adding 400 more feet or so to the plan.
   Council passed an additional motion to let Red Deer County and CARTS know they had approved the plans for Penhold.
   Cooper said that a later step would be continuing the trail from Penhold to Innisfail.

January 31, 2012, Paul Frey, Olds Albertan
Bowden throws support behind regional trail
   Bowden town council decided to appoint Coun. Sheila Church as a representative to a working group that would oversee various aspects involved in constructing a regional trail throughout Central Alberta that would connect the Trans Canada Trail.
   The appointment was made Jan. 23 at council's regular meeting after council received a presentation from Derry Armstrong, a consultant working on behalf of Alberta Trail Net and Paul Pettypiece, vice-president of the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society.
   Alberta Trail Net, the provincial agent for the Trans Canada Trail, has been working in Alberta for several years and has helped local organizations build about 1,700 kilometres of trail throughout Alberta thus far. The goal is to build about 3,000 kilometres.
   Armstrong said the remaining portion of trail from Ponoka to Lacombe is currently being planned and it's hoped that the portion can be built in the next couple of years. The Red Deer to Penhold portion as well as the Innisfail to Olds portion is also being worked on at the present time. The goal of the working group would be to have community representation on it to plan the trail.
   "Our current focus . . . is to get the Penhold to Olds portion built in the next couple of years," he told councillors.
   About 30 kilometres of trail have already been built from Red Deer to Ponoka, with more portions planned, Armstrong said.
   "We're just getting started in this neck of the woods," he said.
   Asked by Church about the cost, Armstrong said the top-end paved urban style trail about three metres wide costs about $100,000 per kilometre, but could be less than that if gravel surface was used.
   Armstrong said there are numerous benefits to residents -- and tourists -- of building the trail.
   "It gives an opportunity for people living in the area to have a recreational trail which they can use to go to school on, to go and visit friends or just to play on. Obviously the more people there are, the more use the trail will get," he said.
   Lacombe and Ponoka counties are supporting the trail plan, Armstrong said, because many rural people use their bicycles on trails.
   "The purpose of the meeting . . . was to introduce to council the whole concept of a national regional trail. This is only going to happen if the local municipalities support moving forward," Armstrong said following the meeting.
   Mayor Rob Stuart said council supports the concept. He said not only would the town's support help create a regional recreational trail network that could potentially link up to other communities, but it would also allow the community to use the expertise of CARTS to upgrade trails inside Bowden.
   "This will give us a resource. We can (also) sit at the table . . . and work in cooperation with the County of Mountain View and the County of Red Deer to all our benefits, I hope," he said.

January 26, 2012, Springbrook-Waskasoo Life online magazine
Mintlaw Bridge Access and Preservation Strategy
Gets Mixed Reviews

Mintlaw trestle aerial view   Between 75 and 100 people attended the Mintlaw Bridge Access and Preservation Strategy open house held yesterday at the Red Deer County Centre to see the draft recommendations for the historic landmark.
   Based on feedback from landowners and several stakeholders including Central Alberta Regional Trails Society, Alberta TrailNet, Forth Junction Heritage Society, Central Alberta Historical Society, Waskasoo Park, City of Red Deer, Town of Sylvan Lake and others, the consultants presented four options from leaving the bridge as is to using the bridge as part of a regional trail network.
Mintlaw bridge view from Red Deer River   All options assumed preservation of the structure and that, long term, the bridge would have public access from both sides as envisioned by the county's Open Spaces Master Plan adopted two years ago. Other options included a viewpoint on the east side of the bridge but no access onto the bridge and access onto the bridge but only from the east side.
   The status quo option (no access to or onto the bridge) would cost about $40,000 per year to maintain. The option of full public access to and onto the bridge from both sides and part of a regional trail system is estimated to cost between $2.7 and $3.2 million in one-time capital costs and about $225,000 per year to operate and maintain. The other two options would be somewhere in between.
   All nine stakeholder groups that provided input supported pedestrian and bicycle access from both sides, that the bridge be part of a regional trail corridor and that the bridge be enhanced with an interpretive area. Of the 38 adjoining landowners providing input, 37% supported public access onto the bridge, 29% were unsure and 34% were opposed to public access onto the bridge. Prior to the open house, County representatives and consultants met with a large number of adjoining landowners to outline the draft strategy.
Mintlaw ACR steel railway bridge   This year marks the 100th anniversary of the structure being built by the Alberta Central Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway. It is over 2100 feet long and 110 feet high at the Red Deer River and is the longest railway bridge in Central Alberta still standing.
ACR Mintlaw trestle 1912   Located just northwest of Springbrook, it is the third longest steel trestle in Alberta -- third only to the two longest steel trestles in Canada located at Lethbridge and Fabyan. It supported its last train in 1981, was abandoned in 1983 and purchased by Red Deer County in 2009 for $1.
   The open house presentation and further feedback can be viewed online until February 15 at
http://rdcounty.ca/News/News-Releases/Mintlaw-Bridge-Public-Access-and-Preservation-Strategy-Open-House



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