An ambitious trail plan has been mapped out for Red Deer County that outlines nearly two dozen potential routes.
The Red Deer County Trails Strategy was spearheaded by a trails task force set up by the county last year to take a look at the existing network and look at potential expansions to the system.
All of the proposed trails have been ranked. At the top is an East/West Railway Trail, which would use an abandoned railway line to create a 10.5-km trail linking Benalto to a spot just southwest of Sylvan Lake. That trail would cost from about $787,00 to nearly $1.6 million.
County council received the 106-page trail strategy for information on Tuesday. Council strongly supported the initiative but did not make any financial commitment towards building new trails.
Expansion opportunities will be considered in the future and will likely hinge on funding from donors or the federal and provincial governments.
“The intention of this strategy is to identify right now what the ideal course of action is,” said Mike Roma, of RC Strategies, which developed the strategy with input from county administration and task force committee.
Task force member Coun. Christine Moore said the strategy does not call for county commitments now.
“This high-level strategic report for trails is very flexible and fluid,” said Moore. “We can go at whatever speed we wish to go.”
The strategy includes more than a dozen recommendations, such as developing a trail classification system with connected maintenance standards, develop a marketing plan and process for community input including ongoing community engagement, form partnerships to develop and maintain trails, as well as create signage, marketing and branding plans.
Other potential trails in the top five include a Blindman River Connection and Lacombe County Connector Trail, a 1.75-km link from the bridge to City of Red Deer. It could cost from $131,250 to $262,500.
The most ambitious project would see 32 km of trails mostly built west of Highway 2 creating links south of Innisfail and north of Penhold and costing an estimated $2.4 million to $4.8 million.
A project with no estimated cost attached would create a link between Sylvan Lake and Red Deer and the last of the top five would see a trail from Stephansson House to Markerville, a 12-km link that could cost between $900,000 and $1.8 million.