The MD of Pincher Creek is an agricultural powerhouse; it also boasts some of the best outdoor recreational experiences in Alberta. Those two strengths, however, can clash with one another.
A resident wrote at the beginning of July to notify MD council of one such conflict at Blue Bridge. The hot summer weather has driven many recreationists to flock to the popular swimming and kayaking spot, creating an influx of parked cars on the road and bridge.
The resident frequently uses the bridge to transport equipment to other sections of land. One hot Saturday while driving a 16-foot mower, the number of parked cars prevented the rancher from even reaching the bridge.
After the vehicles’ owners were found and cars were moved, the mower was able to slowly cross while navigating a narrow gap between parked cars, made all the more difficult (and dangerous) by children also trying to cross the bridge.
With the resident needing to haul hay across the bridge in the near future, the letter requested that the MD do something to keep the bridge clear of parked vehicles and pedestrians to enable the free movement of traffic.
The matter was discussed during MD council’s July 13 meeting.
Although alternative routes exist, ensuring Blue Bridge is accessible to residents was important, said Reeve Brian Hammond.
“We need to protect access to the bridge,” he said.
Chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch agreed.
“It’s key infrastructure for us so it should be open for people that use it,” CAO MacCulloch said.
With more people coming from out of town to have fun at the bridge, Coun. Bev Everts said a major part of the issue was visitors not understanding how often the bridge is used by landowners or how big the equipment passing through is.
“It’s not local people necessarily [swimming] anymore,” she said. “It tends to be folks that aren’t aware, so there’s an education aspect to this. Many of the folks utilizing the space are urban and they didn’t grow up around here and don’t recognize the agricultural need to have that bridge accessible.”
Several ideas to accommodate parking while keeping the bridge open for ratepayers who need it were offered, including posting signage to share the road and building bump-outs on the road.
Administration was asked to do a site inspection and bring back suggestions to council, as well as respond to the resident’s letter.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze