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Media News Articles 2017 concerning trails in Central Alberta

Sept. 26, 2017, Innisfail Province, by Johnnie Bachusky (www.innisfailprovince.ca)
Innisfail Rotary Trail Hero AwardHeroes of Napoleon Lake saluted
Rotary earns special provincial trail award
   Members of the Rotary Club of Innisfail are true heroes.
   More specifically, they are trail heroes for their years of quiet and humble advocacy, fundraising and physical labour the service club did to enhance the 2.3-kilometre trail around Napoleon Lake.
   On Sept. 14 at an official public ribbon-cutting ceremony at Centennial Park, which included a free barbecue at the cookhouse, Rotary was presented with an Alberta Trail Hero 150 Award from Alberta TrailNet in recognition of Canada 150, a one-time provincial award to citizens who have contributed to recreational trails within Alberta.
   For the past four years, Rotary and the Town of Innisfail partnered to plan and implement several vital trail enhancements around the lake, which will now be called Napoleon Lake Rotary Trail. The total cost of the improvements was about $92,000, with two-thirds picked up by Rotary and the rest by the town.
   Heather Kirkham, president of the Rotary Club, said the service club was honoured with the award, emphasizing it added credibility to the project.
   "With the mutual partnership with the town it just validated that the town was willing to work in partnership to make a better community," she said. "For the community it adds viability. It is something the community can be proud of. To be part of that makes you feel even that much better, and the fact that it shows that people care. It is not all about development and building houses and businesses, and taking away something that is irreplaceable."
   The three-phase trail improvement project included enhanced perimeter pathways by widening old trail sections, installation of two drainage culverts to prevent trail washout, construction of two wooden viewing platforms, construction of a boardwalk leading to the viewing platforms at the lake's southwest and northwest corners, connecting existing asphalt trails at the southwest viewing platform, and installation of new benches and receptacle bins.
   Henry Wong, the town's director of community services, noted the trail around the lake is about 2.3 kilometres, with the paved section now 1,176 metres in length and the nature tail slightly longer at 1,179 metres. He said the upgrades included paving of about 150 metres during the summer of 2016.
   "The trail in its original state was one well-worn groove along the trail. We have since widened it with grass cutting and we brought in a contractor who mulched it up in order to level it out a bit," said Wong, adding his department is committed to the nature trail's improved ongoing maintenance. "It is an opportunity for people to escape into nature for a short period of time. To walk 1,100 metres from one end to another takes you out of the regular day-to-day stuff."
   And the enhancement work by Rotary is far from over. Kirkham said while the service club's financial contribution up to now has been through fundraising, members will continue to advocate for the future health and beauty of the lake and trail with new initiatives, ones that could be supported, at least in part, through provincial grants.
   "As we continue on with this legacy project we are kind of creating a living document that is going to be with a partnership and with Rotary. Every year we are going to look to do enhancements to it," she said, adding improvements could include another viewing platform and way signage. "Once we create that document then we have a goal and a plan on an ongoing basis and then we can take advantage of maximizing some government grants."
Photo: Heather Kirkham, president of the Rotary Club of Innisfail, and Mayor Brian Spiller shake hands during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the enhanced Napoleon Lake Rotary Trail at Centennial Park on Sept. 14. Photo by Noel West

Sept. 22, 2017, Red Deer Advocate, by Paul Cowley (www.reddeeradvocate.com)
Trail builders honoured in Lacombe County
Alberta TrailNet presented Alberta Trail Hero Awards to two Lacombe County trail supporters
Lacombe County Trail Hero 150 Awards   A pair of Lacombe County trail builders were recognized for their work recently.
   Former Lacombe County councillor Cliff Soper and Phil Lodermeier, the county's manager of operations, were each honoured with an Alberta Trail Hero 150 Award from Alberta TrailNet.
   It recognizes their contribution to trails linking with the Great Trail, formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail.
   TrailNet director Debbie Olsen said the awards recognize those who have made important contributions to the trail system.
   Soper, a Lacombe County resident, has played an integral role in the development of trails in the City of Red Deer, said Olsen during a presnetation at the county office.
   Soper was taken aback by the honour.
   "This is indeed a surprise," he said. "I really appreciate this recognition."
   Cliff and wife Mary recently donated 25 acres east of the Blackfalds Bottle Depot to create the Cliff Soper Natural Area.
   Lodermeier has helped shepherd a number of trail projects through the planning and approval process, including the popular link between Blackfalds and Lacombe.
   Olsen said she considers the trail built in Lacombe County the finest section of rural TransCanada Trail in the province.
   Five Lacombe County employees were also recognized for their volunteer work.
Photo: Alberta TrailNet director Debbie Olsen recently presented former Lacombe County councillor Cliff Soper (right) and Phil Lodermeier, the county's manager of operations, with an Alberta Trail Hero 150 Award from Alberta TrailNet.

Sept. 14, 2017, Lacombe Online, by Jonathan Guignard (www.lacombeonline.com)
Two Honoured For Their Work on Lacombe County Trails
Lacombe County Trail Hero 150 Awards   A ceremony took place during Lacombe County Council Thursday afternoon to celebrate those involved in building the County's trail system.
   At council, representatives from Lacombe County were honoured for their work on The Great Trail, previously known as the Trans Canada Trail.
   Former County Councillor, Cliff Soper, and Manager of Operations with the County, Phil Lodermeier, received the Alberta Trail Hero 150 award, in celebration of the Canada's birthday and the County's connection to The Great Trail, which took place late last month.
   Director of Alberta Trail Net Debbie Olsen presented them with their certificates, something she was extremely happy to do.
   "It means a great deal to give out these awards. It recognizes people who have done so much to build trails in Alberta. The Trail Hero Award is a special recognition that was only given to a few Albertans and it was my great pleasure to be able to award it to Cliff Soper and Phil Lodermeier here in Lacombe County."
   On August 26th, Lacombe joined 200 communities across the country to celebrate the full connectivity of The Great Trail, which connects every province in the country.
   Olsen, who has worked with both recipients, said it's been a pleasure getting to know them and had great things to say about the area.
   "It's great to be involved with them, it's great to be aware of all the trails within Alberta and I have to say, I meant what I said when I said some of the most beautiful sections of the Trans Canada Trail (The Great Trail) in the province are right here in Lacombe County."
   The Great Trail is claimed to be the world's longest network of recreational trails, stretching over the entire country.
Photo: Manager of Operations with the County, Phil Lodermeier (left), Director of Alberta Trail Net Debbie Olsen, and former County Councillor Cliff Soper (right) after Soper and Lodermeier received the Alberta Trail Hero 150 award Thursday afternoon at Lacombe County Council.

Aug. 30, 2017, Red Deer Express, by Todd Colin Vaughan (www.reddeerexpress.com)
CARTS celebrates The Great Trail system at Bower Ponds
Paul Pettypiece"This is one of about 200 events scheduled across Canada to celebrate The Great Trail, which was formerly called the Trans Canada Trail" - Paul Pettypiece
   The Central Alberta Regional Trail Society (CARTS) held a celebration last weekend at the Trans Canada Trail Pavilion at Bower Ponds to celebrate The Great Trail, which has recently been connected across Canada.
   Paul Pettypiece, president of CARTS, spoke about the significance of marking this occasion.
   "This is one of about 200 events scheduled across Canada to celebrate The Great Trail, which was formerly called the Trans Canada Trail," he said. "In this particular case, we are also celebrating the Red Deer trail system and the trails completed in Central Alberta. We are also showing where the temporary connections are located until the off-road trails are completed within the next few years."
   CARTS is an organization, which has been instrumental to ensuring that Central Alberta has some of the best trails in the country.
   "CARTS is a coordinating society that works with all the municipalities in Central Alberta to try and make sure everyone is on the same page when they are trying to connect to become part of The Great Trail," Pettypiece said. "We aren't trail builders ourselves - we work strictly with the municipalities and give them whatever assistance they need to coordinate their systems."
   CARTS, according to Pettypiece, is run by the kindness of those who use and enjoy the trails.
   "CARTS is a volunteer organization and there are two types of members," he explained. "Every municipality that is a member has a representative on CARTS and then there are at-large volunteers and they give their time freely because they are passionate about ensuring there is a connected and eventually totally completed Trans Canada Trail system."
   He added, "We also help coordinate other trails, for example, we eventually want to see a trail between Red Deer and Sylvan Lake."
   Pettypiece noted the standard of the Waskasoo Trail system is unique in Canada.
   "The standard of trails differs greatly across Canada: some of them are gravel trails; some of them are dirt trails; some of them are multi-use; others like here are strictly non-motorized use," he said. There is a variety of types of trails. One of the things Red Deer has done particularly well is every trail connects to another trail. We want to see that more."
   The Great Trail is connected in part by highways and roadways, something the Great Trail will eventually be rid of.
   "Most of the trails that need to be done are rural trails," Pettypiece said. "Most of the urban municipalities have completed their trails. The rural connections are more challenging because they are longer trails, they are less populated and they are expensive. It is a matter of getting the funding and getting the will of the rural municipalities to complete those sections."
   Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer, who attended The Great Trail Celebration, is proud of the City's ongoing commitment to the Waskasoo Trail system and The Great Trail.
   "One of the greatest sources of pride for Red Deerians is the fact that we have over 120 kilometres in our linear park system," she said. "We were one of the first Albertan communities to participate in the Trans Canada Trail network. For Canada 150, that network has been renamed as The Great Trail. The purpose of The Great Trail is to unite Canadians from coast to coast to coast. There are over 200 cities celebrating today and we are very proud that Red Deer is a part of this national movement."
Veer added the eventual Canada 150 Square in Capstone at Riverlands will eventually be a park node that will connect to The Great Trail.
   She added, "The Central Alberta Regional Trail Society is a local, regional effort and their mandate is to promote trail expansion, trail maintenance and trail use for all people in Central Alberta. They have been great ambassadors for The Great Trail and ensuring that Red Deer remains in the national effort. We are thankful for their effort."
Photo (by Todd Colin Vaughan): Great Trail -Paul Pettypiece, president of Central Alberta Regional Trail Society, presented The Great Trail to Red Deerians at Bower Ponds on Saturday.
http://www.reddeerexpress.com/news/celebrating-red-deers-leg-of-the-great-trail-system/

Aug. 29, 2017, Red Deer Advocate; Sept. 7, 2017, Central Alberta Life, by Sean McIntosh (www.reddeeradvocate.com)
Trails

Michielsen honoured with Trail Hero award
   Lacombe's Larry Michielsen is officially a trail hero.
   During Saturday's Trails Day celebration in the city, Michielsen, president of the Bill Nielsen Trail Society, received the Alberta TrailNet Society's Trail Hero Award.
   "There's only so many in Canada receiving this award so it's pretty special ... When somebody says 'thank you', that's all that matters," said Michielsen.
   The late Bill Nielsen, who died in 2014 from cancer, is the one who truly deserves the award, he added.
   "This is really an award for Bill Nielsen, the creator of the trails," he said. "It's a beautiful area and Thank God Bill had the vision to create these trails, because it's pretty important to have them."
   Nielsen would spend 40 hours a week working on the trails through summer to make sure they were in good condition. After he died, Michielsen and a few others started the Bill Nielsen Trail Society to continue his work.
   "I'm a big supporter of the trails because it is good for physical and mental health and anybody can use them," he said.
Michielsen estimates you could travel about 16 kilometres without backtracking on the trail, whether you choose to walk or bike.
   Michielsen has done a great job leading the society through its first few years, said vice-president Diane Hayduk.
   "He's done a magnificent job as president," said Hayduk. "He's very instrumental in getting things together and keeping us together. You always need that leader, and Larry is such a positive leader when it comes to the trails."
   It was an honour to be there to see Michielsen receive the award that only a few people in Alberta were receiving, Lacombe Coun. Bill McQuesten said.
   "When Bill Nielsen passed away we felt a sense of loss for what he had done in the community's trails, and Larry just picked up the torch," McQuesten said.
   When people come to Lacombe to travel on the trails, they see some of the best in the country, McQuesten said.
   "We have an envious trail system here in Lacombe. We have people from all over that go on our trails and just rave about them.
   "We've always known we had a gem here, but I don't think most of us know how much of a gem it is," he said.
   A few dozen residents came out to enjoy Trails Day in Lacombe and see Michielsen receive his award.
   Lacombe was just one of many places celebrating Trails Day in Canada, with many other places noting the significance of The Great Trail's connection this year.
Photo (by Sean McIntosh): Larry Michielsen received a cake at the Trail Day celebration in Lacombe Saturday, after the Alberta TrailNet Society honoured him with the Trail Hero Award.


Aug. 27, 2017, Lacombe Online, by Joseph Ho (www.lacombeonline.com)
Central Alberta celebrates local and Canada-wide trails
Bill Nielsen Trail Society   The Bill Nielsen Trail Society held a party by Elizabeth Lake Saturday morning, joining 200 communities across Canada celebrating the full connectivity of the Great Trail, known as the Trans Canada Trail before its rebrand.
   But the gathering was also a chance to commemorate the trails within Lacombe and to honour the late Bill Nielsen, who is credited as founder of the city's trail system.
   The society was formed by Nielsen's friends to preserve his legacy by maintaining the city's trails.
   Many of the group's volunteers were recognized for their work yesterday, including president Larry Michielsen, who received the Canada 150 Trail Hero Award, a one-time award bestowed by Alberta TrailNet to citizens.
   "He found us mowers and equipment to get the job done. He's very instrumental in getting things together and keeping us together. You always need that leader and Larry's such a positive leader when it comes to the trails," said vice-president Diane Hayduk.
Larry Michielsen   As well, Michielsen pushed for the City of Lacombe to hire a seasonal employee to maintain them.
   "This is really an award for Bill Nielsen, the society that kept the trails alive and also ... the City of Lacombe and Burman University to all work as a team together," Micheilsen said about receiving the award.
   "I'm a real big supporter of the trails because of the physical, mental health that it is good for."
   Nielsen died in 2014 at the age of 73.
   At the time, Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins delivered a speech in the House of Commons paying tribute to the man.
   Calkins said Nielsen was one to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, building trails in Lacombe by secret, carving them in undeveloped parks, using hand tools to avoid detection. He wasn't found out for six months.
   Today, there are about 16 km of trails in Lacombe that people use for hiking, running and biking. They surround multiple lakes.
   Nielsen was a prolific long-distance runner, running in 100 marathons, more than 30 of them while living with Parkinson's disease. He won his age category 37 times, including 18 in a row. In 2001, he climbed to the top of Canadian masters rankings in the 60 year old class.
   He finished fourth in the 60 year old class at the 2001 Boston Marathon.
   Nielsen was also a builder of trails in Fort McMurray and was inducted into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
Red Deer celebration speakersRed Deer Celebrates
   That afternoon, a similar gathering was held at Bower Ponds in Red Deer by the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society, a non-profit organization that does not build trails, but supports those that do.
   Those in attendance heard that the TransCanada Trail pavilion at Bower Ponds will be replaced this fall. It will include new panels, one which honours four RCMP officers killed in the line of duty during the Mayerthorpe shooting in 2005.
   Trail Hero Award winners were also announced: Debbie Olsen, Grant Johnson, Bev Hanes and Paul Pettypiece.
Photos (by Joseph Ho, Lacombe Online): Top to bottom:
1. Members of the Bill Nielsen Trail Society;
2. Larry Michielsen, president of the Bill Nielsen Trail Society;
3. From left: CARTS president Paul Pettypiece, Alberta TrailNet director Debbie Olsen, Rick Hansen Foundation ambassador Ryan Yeadon, Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins, Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner, Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer.
https://www.lacombeonline.com/local/central-alberta-celebrates-local-and-canada-wide-trails

Aug. 25, 2017, Todayville (online magazine), by Sheldon Spackman (www.todayville.com/)
Celebrate "The Great Trail" In Red Deer August 26th
 


 
   The City of Red Deer will join Blackfalds, Lacombe and many other communities across the country on Saturday to celebrate "The Great Trail" in Canada. Formerly known as the Trans Canada, the Great Trail is currently being connected in numerous areas, as Canadians celebrate the nation's 150th birthday this year.
   Red Deer's free event takes place at Bower Ponds from 2 -4 pm on Saturday, August 26th. It will feature a special commemoration, live music, food and the chance to walk part of the Great Trail of course!
   To learn more about the benefits of trails, the trails of Central Alberta and the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society, click here.
  To find out about all the fun things to do at Bower Ponds Recreation Area, click here.

Aug. 25, 2017, Lacombe Online, by Kim Kay, Sunny 94 (www.lacombeonline.com)
3 Great Trail Events Locally as Part of National Celebration
   There are plenty of trail blazers in central Alberta who have worked tirelessly to connect our communities with trails.
   They'll be recognized at a special Great Trail event in Red Deer tomorrow (August 26th); in fact there's celebrations happening in 3 central Alberta communities, as part of roughly 200 events coast to coast, celebrating the connectivity of 'The Great Trail', formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail.
   According to President of Central Alberta Regional Trails Society, Paul Pettypiece, it all started as a bold dream back in 1992, and now the trail stretches more than 22,000 kilometres across Canada.
   "It's a great accomplishment that this trail is now 100% connected and about 92% completed. Obviously we would love to have it completed in central Alberta as soon as possible, but it will happen."
   "Eventually in central Alberta, hopefully within the next 5 years, we hope to have a full off road connection between Ponoka, then through Lacombe of course, the portion between Lacombe and Blackfalds is already built, the portions of the trail have been built within the various municipalities and eventually it will head down to Olds and then east and south from there."
   Tomorrow's Red Deer event runs from 2-4 pm at Bower Ponds with live music and refreshments; it also includes a special commemoration at 2 pm with some central Alberta trail heroes recognized with awards from the Alberta TrailNet Society, and plans for a new trail pavilion will also be on display.
   There is also a bbq and cake event planned in Lacombe from 11:30-1 at Elizabeth Lake and in Blackfalds as part of their Family Funfest, there's a Great Trail event running from 12:30-4:30 at the Abbey Centre.

Aug. 25, 2017, 96.5 CKfm All Hit Country (www.ckfm.ca/news/)
Olds Celebrates Trans Canada Trail
   The Great Canadian Trail Scavenger Hunt is on Saturday, August 26th at Craig's Corner Park on 48th Ave at 7:30PM. Town of Olds Mayor Judy Dahl adds, the first 250 participants will receive a free scavenger hunt backpack.
   The Great Canadian Trail will be celebrated in Olds this weekend with a scavenger hunt.
   Olds is part of the 83.37k Wimborne to Innisfail section of the Trans Canada Trail. The trail goes east to west on Highway 27 going through Olds and then turns north on 70th Ave to connect with Innisfail.
   Town of Olds Mayor Judy Dahl says the scavenger hunt celebration ties in with the Canada 150 theme.
   She says Olds in one of the hosts along with several communities across Canada, including 16 in Alberta.
   The Great Canadian Trail scavenger hunt is on Saturday evening at Craig's Corner park at 7:30 with family activities, a hot dog BBQ, and movie in the park to follow.


Aug. 9, 2017, Red Deer Express, Sylvan Lake News and Eckville Echo, by Todd Colin Vaughan (www.reddeerexpress.com)
Trans Canada Trail to be celebrated at Bower Ponds
   Red Deerians will soon have the opportunity to celebrate - with 200 other communities across Canada - the creation of the Trans Canada Trail system, which stretches 22,000 kms across the country.
   According to a release from the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society (CARTS), the idea for the Great Trail was originally conceived by Albertan Bill Pratt and Ontarian Pierre Camu in 1992 and was realized by the  Trans Canada Trail (TCT) not-for-profit society.
   CARTS will host a celebration on Aug. 26th at 2 p.m. at Bower Ponds to signify the achievement of the trail, which exists in every province and territory throughout Canada.
   "The one in Red Deer is at the Trans Canada Trail Pavilion at Bower Ponds," said Paul Pettypiece, president of the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society.
   "There will be a short program, with a presentation of Trail Hero Awards. There will also be a brief history of trails in Central Alberta and there will be live music, cake, ice cream, other refreshments and generally a good time."
   According to the CARTS release, the Great Trail offers outdoor experiences on both land and water routes.
   Eventually, the trail will extend to more and more communities.
   "It is because with this being Canada's 150th year, the Trans Canada Trail Foundation wanted to make sure that the trail was connected coast to coast to coast," Pettypiece explained.
   "That doesn't mean that it is completed -- in fact there are several sections in Central Alberta that are not completed yet. But, in the mean time the connections are made by road.
   "Eventually there will be trails that are off-road connecting at least the communities of Ponoka, (Lacombe), Blackfalds, Red Deer, Springbrook, Penhold, Innisfail, Bowden and Olds."
   Pettypiece noted trails allow for communities to connect to each other in a much different way than automobile travel.
   "It provides a safe way for people to travel from community to community without necessarily taking a car," he said.
   "This is a means of active communication (transportation), healthy living, recreation, getting a sense of the environment -- both urban and rural and it is family-friendly."
   Much like its cousin, the Trans Canada Highway -- the Great Trail is also a way for Canadians to connect with one another both within and exterior to their home municipalities.
   "The idea of the Great Trail is that it not only connects people within urban centres, but also connects people between urban centres," Pettypiece said.
   CARTS continues to help advocate for the creation of more trails within Central Alberta.
   "Once the Trans Canada Trail is completed in Central Alberta, CARTS will continue to promote trail development," Pettypiece said.
   "One of the big hoped for trails is a connection between Red Deer and Sylvan Lake. There are other potential trail systems in Central Alberta as well."
   He added, "We hope to see lots of people on the 26th. Both Lacombe and Blackfalds are also having celebrations as well."
   Central Albertans can use the hashtag #thegreattrail to follow up on the celebrations.

Aug. 3, 2017, Red Deer Advocate, by Sean McIntosh (www.reddeeradvocate.com)
Trans Canada Trail
Red Deerians to celebrate The Great Trail
Trans Canada Trail pavilion Red Deer   A day to celebrate is coming for trail lovers in Red Deer.
   In honour of Canada's 150th year, Red Deerians will gather at Bower Ponds in Waskasoo Park Aug. 26 at 2 p.m. to celebrate The Great Trail, also known as the Trans Canada Trail, with a special commemoration, live music and food.
   Red Deer's trails are very well used, said Central Alberta Regional Trails Society president Paul Pettypiece, so celebrating them in the city makes sense.
   "We are proud of the trails we have in Central Alberta and we're excited to celebrate The Great Trail with the rest of Canada," he said.
   Red Deer isn't the only place celebrating, as there will be a number of celebrations for The Great Trail across Canada Aug. 26. Lacombe will have a celebration at 11:30 a.m. at Elizabeth Lake, and Blackfalds will have a celebration as well, though the time and location are not yet confirmed.
   About 100 people are expected to attend celebration in Red Deer, Pettypiece said. Things will begin with a special commemoration to rededicate the Trans Canada Trail Pavilion. New panels will be added to the pavilion in the future honouring fallen RCMP officers and others -- mockups of the panels will be on display Aug. 26.
   "Since the panels and the entire pavilion is being refurbished, we thought it would be a good thing to add," Pettypiece said.
   After that, the Alberta TrailNet Society will honour Central Alberta's "trail heroes" with special awards.
   Then there will be live music from local artists, including the Dean Ray Band, Eric West and Dylan Olsen, while you can enjoy cake, ice cream and treats that will be handed out along the trail.
   The Great Trail stretches 22,000 kilometres across Canada.
   "The trails provide an alternative for everyone to visit other communities and to get a sense of the countryside and urban settings without having to drive a car," Pettypiece said.
   The goal for Canada's 150th year was to connect the trail from coast-to-coast. There are still parts of The Great Trail where you need to walk alongside roads to get to the next part of the trail, but that goal is getting closer to completion.
   "The trail connects communities and people ... Even the people that were against the trails now support them because they see the value in them," he said.
   Though the celebration is coming before the completion of the cross-country trail, the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society is still planning on connecting Red Deer to other places in Central Alberta, such as Ponoka and Innisfail.
   More details can be found at www.centralalbertatrails.org.
Photo: The Trans Canada Trail Pavilion at Bower Ponds in Red Deer will be the site of a celebration for The Great Trail.
Photo contributed by Paul Pettypiece


Aug. 3, 2017, updated Aug. 9, Red Deer NewsNOW (online), by Kirsten Dennis (rdnewsnow.com)
Celebrate The Great Trail as a part of Canada 150
   Over 200 communities across Canada including Red Deer are invited to take part in the celebration of the connectivity of The Great Trail.
   The Trans Canada Trail (TCT) now stretches 22,000 km across our great country, including many lengths of trail locally for people of all ages to enjoy.
   Paul Pettypiece, president of the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society, said the project has been supported by so many and has come a long way since its inception in 1992.
   "It's the longest recreational trail in the world, it connects well over 90 per cent of Canada's population who want to walk or bike or canoe so we don't necessarily have to use a car to get from place to place," he said. "It provides a safe, healthy means of connecting people and communities and it gives a sense of what the environment is like both in rural and urban areas."
   Pettypiece added that while there are some segments not completed in Alberta, it is largely to do with a lack of funding. Once the trails are built there is very little cost associated with the maintenance of them.
   "Generally trail builders try to generate funding and in Central Alberta the trail builders are the municipalities themselves. So when you have a municipality like Red Deer County for example, which a huge amount of trail goes through, they aren't in a position to fund the whole project themselves."
   Pettypiece proudly notes that portions of the trail pass through Red Deer, Blackfalds, Lacombe, Ponoka, and Innisfail.
   "Until recently there has actually been some hesitation of rural municipalities to get involved in trail building simply because they didn't see it as a need. However, Red Deer County did a survey of residents and trails were either the first or second choice of recreational development in all divisions."
   Even with the unfinished segments of trail, Pettypiece added that people looking to travel at length on it can do so using roadway connections until they're able to link back to a designated trail.
   The celebration in Red Deer is being held at Bower Ponds on August 26 at 2 p.m. and will feature a short program with a presentation of trail hero awards as well as live music, a history of trails in Alberta, as well as cake and ice cream.
   There will also be a viewing of the plans for the refurbishment of the Trans Canada Trail Pavilion at Bower Ponds. This project is slated to be completed in the fall.
   Blackfalds is also hosting a celebration on August 26 at the Abbey Centre at 12:30 p.m. while Lacombe is hosting their event at Elizabeth Lake on the Bill Nielsen trail at 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Photo: The Trans Canada Trail Pavilion at Bower Ponds.  Photo contributed by Paul Pettypiece

May 31, 2017, Red Deer Express, by Todd Colin Vaughan (www.reddeerexpress.com)
Being Canadian!
Red Deerians 'tremendously lucky' for parks and trails system
   As most long-time Red Deerians know, this City's park system is one of a kind in Canada and is often the envy of other communities of the same size.
   "I have been in lots of cities in Canada and a lot of them have really interesting parks," Todd Nivens, executive director of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre said. "It is really rare to find something like we have in Red Deer. We have multiple kilometres of walking and biking trails that are all connected to each other and we have 14 park nodes that you don't have to drive to. You can literally walk, bike or, if you are going downstream, paddle from park node to park node."
   Nivens added the trail system being all-access and free to use makes residents, "Tremendously lucky."
   "When we go to different communities or when we go and teach in different areas - we get asked about it a lot," Nivens said. "I was just out in a small, rural Central Alberta community that wants to develop their trail system and they invited us out they saying, "Hey tell us how it works in Red Deer. Tell us why your trail system is so great. It is fun to share that with other communities."
   According to Nivens, the trail and park system in Red Deer is something that differentiates the community from other cities.
   "As people move from community to community - most of them will have the same types of things," he explained. "Most communities will have a mall; most communities will have big box shopping; most communities have a hockey arena. When people move, especially when they move professionally, one of the things communities need to be aware of is what is going to drive somebody to come and live here. The parks system in Red Deer is so key to maintaining that quality of life. People are more and more looking for outdoor experiences and they are looking for easily accessible outdoor experiences."
   Nivens further added that many of the experiences Alberta has to offer are all available right in the heart of Red Deer, without having to drive.
   "Here you can go for a walk in the woods that doesn't involve you driving two and a half hours out to the mountains," he said. "You can paddle down a river that doesn't require you driving to Rocky Mountain House and throwing a boat on the North Saskatchewan River. You can bike ride in the woods. There are all kinds of opportunities both from an interactive nature point of view and a light adventure-tourism point of view. It contributes to our overall well-being."
   Nivens gave credit to the municipal government for ensuring that parks and trails are a key point of urban development.
   "It is crucial and that was recognized years ago by City council and by parks planning," he said. "There are plans in place that as Red Deer expands, there are new park nodes that come into park and will be connected through the inter-connected trail system. As Red Deer gets bigger, the park will get bigger."
   This urban development also allows Red Deerians to live in a better harmony with nature, according to Nivens.
   "All you have to do is look at an aerial shot of Red Deer to realize it is a community that exists around and within a band of green - stemming from the river valley itself to everywhere we have our feeder creeks that come in," he said. "You can see how the vegetation remains untouched by it and what that does is that it provides a wildlife corridor. It provides a way for large and small animals to move around the City with minimal interaction. It is because of these wildlife corridors that we can live relatively safely and in relative harmony with wildlife."
   Nivens feels this harmony leads to better understanding of the natural world.
   "I think it makes us a more potentially more environmentally protective community," he said. "Make sure you visit the park system. It really is accessible to everybody. If you are a walker, hiker, skateboarder, longboarder, rollerblader, if you are in a wheelchair, if you are in a mobility device, if you are a paddler - go and visit the park. It is the best way to disengage from your hustle and bustle life. There are places in the park where you can disappear and get it in your mind that 'I am in a natural place.'"

May 9, 2017, Red Deer Advocate, by Murray Crawford (www.reddeeradvocate.com)
Tourism
Trail system among most 'breathtaking' features of city
   When asked what was breathtaking about Red Deer, residents and visitors immediately pointed to the city's vast trail system.
   It's been two weeks since an Expedia travel blog named Red Deer among the 34 most breathtaking places in North America. The blog put the Central Albertan city among Niagara Falls, Banff and Lake Louise, Tofino, B.C., and Page, Ariz.
   But, people are still talking about what they find breathtaking about the city.
   Joel Jackson was among a number of people who immediately pointed to the trail system.
   "It's great for runs, walks and taking kids," he said on Sunday. "They're everywhere and you can escape the city pretty well, leaving the noise of the traffic behind."
   His friend Matt Kuzek said the trail system isn't something he really noticed until he moved to the city. But he was amazed at the huge network of trails.
   Krystal Reid, who was in town visiting from Edmonton, pointed right away to the river valley the city is built around. She compared it to Edmonton's river valley and the extensive network of trails there.
   Reid's friend Jordan Gartner agreed that the trails are a key feature, but also pointed to Bower Ponds.
   "It's really nice to go there in the summer," he said.
   Sandra Gurskey visits Red Deer regularly from Saskatchewan and said she is always blown away by how incredibly clean the city is. She was walking with her friend Erin Acorn who agreed the city is clean, and the parks are beautiful.
   "We have lots of green space," she said. "And we do have the really nice trail system."
   Diane, who didn't provide her last name, joined the thunderous chorus touting the beauty of the city's trail system.
   According to the City of Red Deer, there are more than 110 kms of hard and soft surface trails in the Waskasoo Park system.
   Outside of the city's trail system, the travel blog also pointed to the lively downtown area, the pollinator park and Maskepetoon Park as key features that vaulted it onto the list.

Jan. 5, 2017, Red Deer Advocate, Opinion by Greg Neiman (www.reddeeradvocate.com)
Small contributions to a big celebration
   Fifty years ago, I was in what today is called middle school. That year was overtaken by class projects around Canada's Centennial.
   We sang Ca-Na-Da endlessly, though in our small town, the kids never got to actually follow Bobby Gimby and his jewelled trumpet through the streets. Geometry lessons revolved around precisely drawing the interlocked triangles that made up the Expo 67 logo. We all knew where Expo 67 was. It was on TV.
   Every village, town and city had a Centennial project. Lord knows how many Centennial Parks, Centennial Centres or Centennial Libraries still survive, but if your town didn't have one in 1967, people might wonder about your patriotism.
   This year is Canada's 150th anniversary, but for some reason, we're not competing to see who has the greatest or most interesting personal or municipal project going to mark the event.
   So far, only the federal government seems to be interested in celebrating that Canada has been a nation for 150 years. No, that's not entirely true; there are others with their eye on the calendar, and I'll get to that in a moment.
   For Red Deer, I think our best efforts should go forward becoming great hosts for the Canada Winter Games. Not exactly on the 150th birthday of Canada, is it? But 2019 is close enough, and we have a whole lot of work to do, that will leave a lasting legacy for this city.
   To find celebration projects in Alberta, I went to the official web site Canada150years.com. There's a tab labelled Events, and a filter for locations.  I typed in "Alberta", searched and got ... no events.
   I know there must be some special events planned here, but somehow they're not listed.
   So I'll add one for all of us. The people who brought us the TransCanada Trail have been working very hard for a very long time to complete the 21,452 km of official trail connecting all 13 of Canada's provinces and territories from sea-to-sea-to-sea, in time for the nation's 150th birthday.
   The entire trail is mapped, with 90 per cent of it connected so far. There are gaps -- most notably in Alberta -- but in theory, you can get on your bike on any of Red Deer's city trails, and wind up in Vancouver, or St. John's, or Inuvik -- all along the Great Trail.
   So my family's resolution for the New Year, for our 150th Anniversary of Confederation -- and for our general health -- we plan to discover how much of that 21,452 km we can cover in 2017.
   We will be visiting all the local attractions possible in our area, without having to get there by car.
   Markerville is a lovely destination, and Stephenson House is nearby. The regional trail (part of the official TransCanada) to Lacombe is very attractive, and there are nice stops in Blackfalds and Lacombe for rest and refreshment along the way. This isn't a race.
   But it could be a beer run. Red Deer has two craft breweries to visit, and then there's one in Lacombe. Now there's a nice day-long group ride for a warm summer day. Who's up for that?
   Sylvan Lake and Spruce View are also reachable by bike. We've been visiting Delburne every year since 2009 on a charity ride, and have passed by the ice cream shop every time.
   If lunch is what you seek, the Ellis Bluebird Farm is as good a stop and rest area as you can find in all of Canada. There is virtue in pie and ice cream, if you ride through the river valley to get it.
   Hwy 11 from Saskatchewan River Crossing heading east is one of the great bike rides in all of Canada. A reasonably fit cyclist on a good day can leave after an early breakfast and get to Nordegg for an extra-large burger and fries for a late lunch.
   But on the whole, our voyage will be more virtual than actual trekking the Great Trail. With the help of tracking technology, all our walking, skiing, cycling and paddling -- all our fitness activity -- can be recorded and the distances plotted against the Trail map.
   It's a trip you an take, too. For enjoyment, fitness and discovery. And as a stay-cation with a story you can share 50 years later.
   The people who created and supported the TransCanada Trail have given us a great gift. Let's make the most of it in its inaugural year, 2017.


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