Establishment of a new task force to raise funds to support ongoing development of the CN Trail pathway project received unanimous approval by Town of Drumheller council during the regular Tuesday, September 6 council meeting.
The Town announced in April it had struck a deal with CN to lease former railbed right-of-way from Midland, Newcastle, downtown, Rosedale, and Wayne to develop a pedestrian trail system throughout the Drumheller Valley.
“It’s a big project, but if you break it down into bite-sized pieces it’s manageable,” Drumheller Mayor Heather Colberg tells the Mail.
With enough public interest, Mayor Colberg hopes to have a task force of at least six to 10 community members, along with herself and Councillors Patrick Kolafa and Crystal Sereda.
“Council members are there (on the task force) because they are passionate about this project,” Mayor Colberg says.
She adds, although the task force will still need to report to the Town, she would like to see it be community-driven.
Surveys and sponsorship packages will be put together for various amenities the task force will raise funds for-from benches, recycling and waste containers, rest areas, signage, and furthering development.
Mayor Colberg says she is ambitious to get the project complete and hopes, with some strong fundraising efforts and support from the community, the project could reach 50 per cent completion by the end of 2023. She says she is particularly excited to see the former CN train bridge opened to pedestrian traffic between Midland and Newcastle.
Brooks Asphalt began work at the end of August to pave a 1.5 kilometre stretch of trail, from the intersection of Highway 56 and 19 Street East by Walmart to the intersection of Highways 9 and 10. Completing this portion of the project was given priority as it will provide a safe way for pedestrians to travel between downtown Drumheller and Walmart.
“Safety is our number one priority,” Mayor Colberg shares.
Council allocated $25,000 in the 2022 budget for trail development, which will become an ongoing allocation in future budgets for development and maintenance; however, these funds were not sufficient to complete the entirety of this portion of the project, and some funding from the Street Improvement Program was needed to finish the work.
Mayor Colberg encourages anyone interested in joining the task force to fill out a volunteer application on the Drumheller.ca website or reach out to task force members for more information on how to get involved.
Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail