A new public trail is being created through a forest belt in north Red Deer that’s known for having homeless encampments.
Red Deer parks superintendent Trevor Poth believes the best way to deal with illicit activities is to encourage more lawful uses of an area.
“One of the benefits will be the presence of legitimate users who can report things,” he said.
But there are other reasons a recreational trail is being built this fall through an escarpment between Riverside Meadows and Highland Green.
Poth said this long planned tie-in to the Waskasoo Park system was part of the Riverside Meadows redevelopment plan from 2009. It was designed to provide area residents with a green-way linked to other park trails.
“It will be a great recreational resource and have some amazing views,” at the top end of the escarpment.
Poth said some trees will have to be removed for the new trail, which will begin at 60th Street and Riverview Avenue, near the Mustard Seed, and continue west along the northern edge of Riverside Meadows, all the way to Taylor Drive.
Once completed, the entire walk will be about five kilometres, he added.
First, a new asphalt trail link from 60th Street and Riverview Avenue, through the Riverside Meadows Central Park site, will be created to lower Highland Green walkway (at 58th Avenue and 61st Street).
Then a mulched trail will be started between the upper Highland Green walkway, Howarth Street Close and 60th Street.
Poth said this more westerly section will eventually be paved as well, and some viewing platforms are planned. But this work will depend on getting future budget approval from city council.
Trail clearing is starting this week and the development that’s been funded so far is expected to be completed by spring.
As usual, homeless camps that are discovered in the woods will be cleaned up by the city, and campers will be encouraged to use shelters until they can get into transitional housing, said Poth.