Trans Canada Trail in
Rails to Trails
History of CARTS
Friends of Trails
President's Reports 2008
New Rural Trail on the Horizon
by Debbie Olsen, CARTS President
Republished from Alberta
TrailTracker Fall 2008
Talk trails to urban residents
and you are likely preaching to the converted. Trails have long been
recognized as one of the best-used and most cost effective recreational
facilities in modern urban centres. They allow residents better access
to open green spaces, promote healthy living and even affect economic
Unfortunately, trails have not always held the same appeal for rural
residents. One of the challenges for stimulating support for trails and
green spaces in rural communities has been the sense that there is
already an abundance of open space. But things are changing in Alberta.
More than ever, rural residents are looking for ways to stay active and
walking and cycling are becoming more popular pursuits. Rural residents
want better access to natural areas such as lakes and wetlands and many
would like to see linkages between rural communities and urban ones.
Central Alberta is experiencing the benefits of this shift in attitude
thanks to some innovative and forward-thinking rural municipalities who
have taken the time to ask their residents what they want and followed
through with a plan to make it happen. In 2005, Red Deer County
commissioned an Open Spaces Master Plan that identified the need for
trails as one of the most important recreational facilities to Red Deer
County residents. A subsequent survey of residents in 2007 for the
Recreational Facilities Master Plan reconfirmed the importance of trails
when county residents listed trails as one of the top recreational
facilities they would like Red Deer County to undertake. "Residents have
said they want trails and we have been working on a plan to answer that
request," says Jo-Ann Symington, Community Services Manager for Red Deer
County. "The Open Spaces Management Plan identified three trails that
were a top priority and we are currently working on plans to build a 3.6
km trails from Springbrook to Penhold, a 6.8 km trail between Spruce
View and Dickson and a one km trail at the west end of Glennifer Lake to
provide public access to the Red Deer River."
The section of trail linking Springbrook and Penhold is planned to be
part of the Trans Canada Trail and Red Deer County is hoping to apply
for funding support from Alberta TrailNet and the Trans Canada Trail
Foundation and to begin construction in 2009. "We see it as providing a
valuable linkage between the communities of Springbrook and Penhold,"
says Symington. "We are in the process of surveying, completing the
engineering for the project, and obtaining right of way. We plan to make
it a showcase for the Trans Canada Trail in Alberta. There is a
beautiful wetland area and there will be some opportunities for a unique
design that has educational as well as recreational value."
The Springbrook to Penhold section of the Trans Canada Trail and the
other rural trails currently in the works at Red Deer County clearly
demonstrate that attitudes are changing when it comes to rural trails in
some parts of Alberta. The excitement about trails in Central Alberta is
almost tangible and thanks to forward-thinking municipalities and
hard-working trail advocates, we anticipate more exciting news about
Trans Canada Trail development in Central Alberta over the coming
Update on Central Alberta
President's Report 2008
For many years, the communities of central Alberta have been meeting
regularly through the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society (CARTS) to
discuss ways to promote trails in this part of the province. Alberta
TrailNet (ATN) and the Trans Canada Trail Foundation (TCT) have offered
support and expertise as Central Alberta communities and volunteers have
worked together to help foster support for trail initiatives. Here is an
update on what has been achieved in the last few years and a glimpse at
what is on the horizon for trails in central Alberta.
- A little more than two years ago, the map for the TCT was changed in
Alberta to include a trail linking communities from Penhold to
Wetaskiwin. This was the culmination of several years of work by
volunteers and communities in central Alberta.
- Once central Alberta had a registered section of TCT, CARTS was able
to hire a TCT Coordinator (Derry Armstrong) thanks to funding support
from the TCT Foundation.
- CARTS realized that limited funding was available for trails. Central
Alberta communities brought forward a resolution at the Alberta Urban
Municipalities Association's annual general meeting to ask the Alberta
government to better fund trails in the province. This resolution was
passed with strong support from the AUMA.
- In order to link communities within Central Alberta, several bridges
will be necessary. The two key bridges are located between Blackfalds
and Red Deer over the Blindman River and in Ponoka over the Battle
River. CARTS helped municipalities in those regions apply for and
receive funding from the TCT Foundation for the engineering of both of
these bridges. We are currently working with communities to develop a
plan to get these bridges built and in the past year, we received
funding commitments of up to $400,000 towards the construction of these
two bridges. ATN has committed to fund $100,000 towards each bridge and
TCT Foundation has committed to fund $85,000 towards the Battle River
Bridge and will also provide funding for the Blindman Bridge. The TCT
has also been approached to provide bridge funding.
- The Town of Ponoka is currently working on a grant application to ATN
and TCT for trails adjacent to the planned bridge over the Battle River.
The Town has set aside a significant amount of funds for trail
development and we hope to be able to make an announcement soon on the
progress of this project.
- CARTS has been working closely with the Town of Lacombe, the Town of
Blackfalds, the County of Lacombe and the County of Red Deer on a
subcommittee originally struck to promote the building of the pedestrian
bridge over the Blindman River. The committee continues to make progress
on the bridge planning, but has also been working on a unique
opportunity to build a trail linking these communities. We hope to make
an announcement on our progress in the near future.