Trans Canada Trail in
Rails to Trails
History of CARTS
Friends of Trails
Media News re trails 2005
Sept. 14, 2005, Red Deer Advocate, by Jack Wilson
New trails proposed in master
Building new trails and improving existing pathways are among
recommendations heading to Red Deer city council this month.
The Recreation, Parks and Culture Board approved a trails and
pathways master plan on Tuesday for council's consideration on Sept. 26.
The proposal seeks construction of many kilometres of new walking,
biking and nature trails in the next 15 years.
If approved by council, the earliest implementation date would be
after the 2006 budget is passed early next year.
Recreation, parks and culture manager Greg Scott said he not only
likes the plan for its vision but the fact it will define standards for
his department and other departments such as engineering.
Some 101 km of new trails are proposed, said Dave Matthews, a city
planning co-ordinator who sits on the board.
In addition, existing trails would be widened in some areas and
existing shale paths would be paved.
The plan, which took 17 months to formulate and involved much
public consultation, calls for about $900,000 to be spent in the next
The 15-year plan calls for about $8.4 million in expenditures.
The largest estimated cost is $5.8 million for a pedestrian bridge
connecting the Riverlands area on the West Park side of the Red Deer
River to Bower Ponds.
That drew the ire of board member Roy Bedford.
He said he couldn't support the motion to council if it included
Bedford said he couldn't see spending that much money on a foot
bridge when the city has to implement a lunch program to feed poor,
hungry children and the city continues to come to grips with growing
Scott said later the bridge wouldn't be considered for about five
years and still would need final council approval.
Plan proposals include:
- Centre lines on existing well used trail routes.
- Snow clearing on a three-year trial period for a section of the
Waskasoo Creek trail connecting Barrett Park and Coronation Park.
- Park rangers who would be full-time, year-round for the entire trail
system and full evaluation of trail signs.
- New, unpaved nature trails within Maskepetoon Park, a treed preserve
northwest of Heritage Ranch, and links to Oriole Park West and Bower
- A long trail that extends from Heritage Ranch to the Westlake
subdivision and Red Deer College, crossing Taylor Drive and continuing
across Red Deer's southern boundary, Delburne Road.
- A new trail that cuts northeast through the Michener Centre grounds,
crossing 30th Avenue and extending through new annexed lands near the
River Bend Golf Course.
Sept. 9, 2005, Red Deer Advocate editorial by Greg Neiman
On the trail of a worthy plan
Every community needs people who can take a good idea, hold on to
it and patiently work it into completion. People like Bob Johnstone,
president of the Central Alberta Region Trail Society.
He's bought into the idea that a national network of cycle and
hiking trails would be a great legacy, and he's willing to invest an
awful lot of his time to help bring local sections of that network into
Red Deer's trail system added 29 km to that network last June, and
a trail marker in Bower Ponds will be officially unveiled on Saturday.
Dedicating already-existing trails into the Trans Canada Trail
system is obviously a good idea. But the TCT -- the longest
cycling/hiking route in the world at 18,000 km -- won't be a reality
until a whole lot of new trail is built.
Although Alberta already has about 600 km of the trail completed,
we have a long way to go, because the east-west route across Canada
makes an intersection in Alberta with the route heading north into the
That means we get the nation's largest provincial portion of the
trail, which -- as Johnstone could surely tell you -- is both a blessing
and a challenge.
It's a blessing because Alberta will have access to one of the
world's top new tourism draws of the millennium (about 62 per cent of
our section of the trail has been completed), and because Red Deer
will be almost in the centre of it.
A recent Price Waterhouse study done in Ontario gives an indication
of how big a deal this idea can be. They concluded that once Ontario's
part of the TCT is complete, it will add about $2.4 billion in
value-added income to the province's economy. As much as 42,000 direct
and indirect jobs will be added to the economy, fueled by the money that
people spend using the trails.
British Columbia needed no such study to conclude that it would be
worth $13.4 million to rebuild or refurbish 14 trestle bridges that were
destroyed or damaged in the forest fires of 2003.
The Kettle Valley Trail, that runs 450 km over old railway beds
(and the trestle bridges in the spectacular Myra Valley canyon), is a
key part of Central B.C.'s tourism plan.
In fact, they are spending even more money to expand the trail to
700 km, linking other existing trails and 18 communities in their Spirit
of 2010 project.
Alberta's recently-completed Iron Horse Trail runs for 300 km, much
of it on old rail lines and is designed for four-season use. It now
links Waskatenau (and from there, the Saskatchewan portion), to Cold
Lake and beyond, to be linked with Alberta's capital region of the CTC.
It's already proving to be a huge tourism booster.
Even though the experience of people living along trails shows that
the trails produce far fewer problems than benefits, getting stakeholder
support (which includes local landowners) is proving to be a slow
Another roadblock to the easy linking of communities (and their
local trail networks) is the policy of Alberta Transport not to allow
trail development along highways to link communities.
A media spokesperson for Alberta Transportation and Infrastructure
maintained the policy is to address safety concerns.
But if there's no trail along the road allowance of a highway, a
cyclist or hiker would have to travel the highway itself. That can't
It certainly can't be because of the cost, because local trail
committees actually raise money for trail construction and upkeep -- and
the trails more than pay for themselves in increased tourist trade
Just ask the merchants at Bentley, who prosper each summer from the
roadside trail linking the Aspen Beach campground on Gull Lake to the
Even so, some local highway routes are fabulous bike routes all on
One example: Hwy 951 north of Leslieville is one of the most
beautiful country rides you could find anywhere, and it links
wonderfully on a circle route on Hwy 51 east to Bentley or west and
south back to Rocky Mountain House.
There are many other such routes, that beg for a linked trail
network. Consider the route following the Boomtown Trail southeast of
How much more successful could that tourism effort be if the
provincial government allowed some of the communities on it to be linked
on cycle trails just off the highways?
These kinds of local roadblocks might be enough to make some
dedicated volunteers just give up and stay home.
But people like Bob Johnstone just keep on working. That's why
communities need them.
Sept. 7, 2005, Red Deer Advocate, by Jack Wilson
Gas price rise expected to drive
up city trail use
The radical rise in the cost of gasoline underscores the need for
communities to develop vibrant local, regional and cross-Canada trail
systems, a trail proponent says.
Bob Johnstone, president of the Central Alberta Regional Trail
Society, said that not only are people searching for cheaper, yet
effective, modes of transportation, they are looking for expanded
Trials connecting points in a city such as Red Deer also need to
link various communities, Johnstone said.
A sign overlooking Bower Ponds will display the names of residents
who have donated $50 per metre of trail.
The sign will be unveiled on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Twenty-nine km of local trails have been registered with the Trans
The 18,000-km recreational trail will connect the two coasts when
completed and includes 600 km in Alberta so far.
Efforts by the society to link communities along Hwy 2A continue to
run into roadblocks, said Johnstone.
He said Alberta Transportation's policy is not allowing new trails
along highways unless needed for safety reasons or as short connections
Obtaining permission from landowners to develop new trails has also
been a challenge.
The society isn't dropping its Red Deer-to-Springbrook trail
proposal. He said the society will continue working on Alberta
Transportation and talking to numerous landowners for the link.
He said landowners have legitimate concerns about safety and
possible damage and litter.
"It's frustrating at times, but I'm not a quitter and this is
important for us. You just have to keep talking about the positive
aspects to everyone."
He said governments recognize the benefits of "active
"When people walk or use their bicycle, the contribution to the
environment means cleaner air, healthier people and a healthier planet.
"If you're going to get the public to listen, it has to be
something that is important to them. For some people, because of limited
incomes, their choice of getting to work will be affected.
"Hopefully they'll use transit or team up, car pool, and more
"Statistics show that people are willing to commute if they have a
safe and fairly direct route to their destination."
Johnstone said the city's master plan for trails and pathways is
going to city council at the end of the month. A member of the steering
committee, Johnstone said the plan, if accepted, will allow people to
access many more destinations within the city.
It has been developed with safety in mind.
The master plan is partially based on a 2004 survey of more than
800 park users augmented by an open house and suggestions from the
public mailed to the city.
The survey revealed that trail users were captivated with the
plants and wildlife, trail conditions, accessibility and safety.
They suggested that money be spent on constructing more trails, as
well as maintenance, lighting, stations offering drinking water and
"I live trails," Johnstone said simply as to why he became involved
a decade ago in promoting trails.
The 67-year-old retired child care worker has either walked,
bicycled or in-line skated every metre of Red Deer's extensive trail
system of 70 km of paved trails and 25 km of soft-surface trails.
Johnstone's home in the Waskasoo area is near the hub of the city's
He said people are constantly searching for new ways to keep
healthy. "Not only are they exercising, they are experiencing nature
when they use the city," he said.
The trails are also an escape from the bustle of streets. "The
trails are quiet. They are peaceful."
"The great thing about trails is you can do it whenever, with
whoever and for as long as you want."
Recent Media News
Archive Headlines: Current &