Two cyclists make their way over the CP Rail bridge over the Red Deer River Thursday. The city is planning to install monitoring devices on trails in the Waskasoo Park system to count users.

Two cyclists make their way over the CP Rail bridge over the Red Deer River Thursday. The city is planning to install monitoring devices on trails in the Waskasoo Park system to count users.

City installing monitors to gauge trail usage

Six counters will soon be tallying the people enjoying Red Deer’s trail system and hockey rinks.

Six counters will soon be tallying the people enjoying Red Deer’s trail system and hockey rinks.

Trevor Poth, parks superintendent, said the small, moveable counters will be placed at various locations to gauge usage on the trails.

The sites have not been determined yet.

The last time the city measured usage was in 2005, when it was preparing a trails master plan.

Parks staff conducted surveys and manually counted people as they walked by for a couple hours over two days.

At that time, an estimated 1,500 people used the trail per hour at a certain sections during peak periods.

“Park use has probably grown at the same rate as municipal growth,” said Poth. “That’s one of the reasons why we bought these tracks — to say for sure how the trends are actually working out.”

The data collected will be used in maintenance planning, upgrades and basic evaluations.

“We continually hear from residents that parks and trails are the greatest contributor to a high quality of life in Red Deer,” said Poth. “We just want to see what that breaks down to in actual metrics.”

In the winter, the city will put the trackers on board entrances of various ice rinks in neighbourhoods throughout Red Deer.

Poth said this will allow the city to determine when the rinks are used or not used and to establish community needs.

“If we find rinks that aren’t being used at all, (maybe there) are places where we can relocate the rinks to better serve the community as a whole,” said Poth.

The city is also interested in determining the number of cross-country skiers in the winter.

The six counters came with a $4,500 price tag. Poth hopes to have them in place for July 1.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com