To the troops of the Canadian Forces who are mobilizing in Central Alberta to help blaze the way for a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail.
This trail is of immense importance to all Canadians, and a boon to the tourist industry, by offering first-hand a rare glimpse of the ‘innards’ of Canada.
It will wind through the countryside, exposing natural wonders.
It’s easily hiked trails will bring will lead young and old through the heart and soul of this great country’s floral and fauna.
It’s vital that all provinces, municipalities and citizens — be they rural or urban dwellers — welcome this exciting venture.
In this area, the military will be deploying troops to help build a pedestrian bridge in Lacombe County. Army engineers will donate their time and expertise (worth about $50,000) for the $300,000 bridge over the Blindman River, which is part of the walking-trail project.
Still on the walking trail, a bouquet to Lacombe County for recognizing the importance of this project by expressing enthusiasm, backed by a donation of $50,000 worth of building material for the Blindman River bridge.
The rest of the cost will be covered by provincial and federal governments and a $100,000 grant from Alberta TrailNet.
With the funding in place, the bridge is expected to be completed by the spring. The county is looking at a link from the Town of Blackfalds to the pedestrian bridge. Later, the trail will be extended to created a link with the Town of Lacombe.
What a gorgeous hike this part of the trail system will provide in all four seasons. It will wind its way through some of the most awe-inspiring natural areas in this part of Central Alberta.
“It’s good to see it (the bridge project) is going to be a go,” said Phil Lodermeier, Lacombe county’s manager of operations.
Other Central Alberta communities have also joined the walk in contributing to the Trans-Canada Trail.
And still on the walking trails, a dart to those opposing this exciting venture. In particular, some members of the rural community who argue that they don’t want city folk invading their properties.
For the most part, the trail plan will be accessing properties not in the hands of private owners — abandoned rail lines, for example — which offer great potential for trails.
The problem is, those abandoned lines also wind through the rural areas that some farmers seem to think are off limits to the public. For years, they have been using those rail lines as convenient crossing points to get from one field to another. They don’t want that luxury disturbed.
Crown lands with grazing leases handed out to ranchers at fire-sale prices are also part of the development plan.
Red Deer County has cautioned that “public support” is essential before any trails are blazed through its turf.
County Deputy Mayor George Gehrke praised plans for trail systems, but cautioned that landowners must be have the final say. That’s not being disputed.
“People who live on the land don’t need a trail, they’ve got a trail going out their front door,” said Gehrke. “People in the neighbourhood are not in favour of urbans stomping through their yard, and they don’t want to pay for it.”
But “urbans” using those trails will not be stomping. They will be walking with respect and care. Common sense should tell Gehrke those trails will not wind through anybody’s yard. And those concerned about who will pay for these trails should not lose site of the fact that, for the most part, it’s the urbanites’ tax dollars that prop up the agricultural community when it faces tough times.
Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.