Pathway to Park makes funding pitch

·3 min read

A group proposing a scenic, paved multi-use trail between Hinton and the Jasper National Park boundary will have their funding proposal considered as part of the 2022 budget deliberations.

Bernie Kreiner, speaking on behalf of the West Yellowhead Trail Society, made a presentation to Town council during the Dec. 21 regular meeting of council. He spoke to the vision and scope for the 26 km path, which is estimated to cost between $7.4 million and $10.4 million.

“This idea hasn’t just been a year in working. There’s been a lot of discussions amongst a fair number of folks for a period of time,” Kreiner said as part of the presentation.

The project is a 3-meter wide, paved multi-use trail for all non-motorized uses including bike riding, e-biking, walking, jogging, roller blading, roller skiing and winter uses like cross country skiing and fat biking.

Kreiner pointed out trails of this nature exist throughout North America, including the Heritage Trail from Canmore to Banff, the West Side Legacy Trail from Invermere to Fairmont and the Northstar Trail from Kimberley to Cranbrook.

The pathway would also include scenic rest stops with picnic tables, viewpoints and interpretive signage along the way.

“There’s lots of opportunities to educate and enjoy the spaces, not just zip down the 26 kilometre route,” said Kreiner.

The group foresees hiring a project manager in early 2022, with a timeline that includes two years of clearing and construction.

The society was established in 2021 and the board includes Garth Griffiths, Bernie Kreiner, Stuart Taylor, Marie-Soliel Pinet, Jason Griffiths and Mike Meagher.

The group had a few asks of Hinton Town Council, including approval of the project in principle, agreeing to accept operating and maintenance responsibility for the pathway to the County boundary with jurisdiction starting in late 2024. The society also wanted Council to commit to a financial contribution, or in-kind, to the project in 2022-2024, with a proposed commitment to $100,000 in 2022 and $200,000 each in 2023 and 2024.

Kreiner mentioned that the Town could consider in-kind contributions like developing the proposed parking lot west of Woodley Drive by the mall.

“We’ve chosen to talk with the FMA holder and we are now speaking to the municipalities, we’ve had early discussions with the provincial and federal governments relative to funding and there’s lots more detailed work to be done with leaseholders, Aboriginal groups, services clubs, residents, volunteers, tourist organizations and of course our Facebook friends.”

The society presented to the Yellowhead County council last week, and the county accepted the project in principle.

Coun. Albert Ostashek questioned the group about their ask for the Town to assume control of the asset and associated agreements, stating he did have concerns about the Town assuming those responsibilities.

Kreiner said that it’s no different than other community assets like the spray park, which the Town assumed control of after construction.

“We are not pretending that the society will have much life after,” Kreiner said.

Coun. Ryan Maguhn made the motion that Hinton Town Council supports the Pathway to The Park project in principle, which passed unanimously.

Coun. Stuart Taylor made the motion to direct administration to bring the financial requests from West Yellowhead Trail Society to the Jan. 14 - 15 budget discussion with an amendment by Coun. Ostashek that any financial allocation approved through the budget process be conditional on the society meeting all requirements of the Town civic partnership policy. The amended motion passed unanimously.

Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice

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