Once completed, the network will include 37 kilometers of single-track trails on the east side of the Oldman River. It will be divided into north and south sections with a primary connector between the Helen Schuler Nature Center and the Six Mile Coulee.
The City of Lethbridge said in a news release that the formalized trail network will have several benefits for the community, including better public education about trail usage and prohibited activities, protection of culturally and ecologically-sensitive areas, and improved maintenance on sanctioned trails.
Parks & Cemeteries Infrastructure Coordinator Andrew Sommerville said it was a long process to get to this point.
“We have undertaken extensive engagement and our stakeholders agreed that having a sanctioned trail network will be beneficial for all river valley users,” said Sommerville.
Back in 2020, the city council unanimously voted down the $1.75 million Pathway 24 (Six Mile Coulee) project, which would have seen the implementation of a casual walking path in the River Valley. Many members of the council at the time stated that this pathway was fine at it was and went back to the drawing board to see what other types of trail-related improvements could be made.
READ MORE: Funding canceled for Six Mile Coulee pathway project, city will consult further on future use
The Lethbridge Trail Alliance (LTA) is one of several local groups that have voiced support for the new Sanctioned River Valley Trail Network.
LTA President Ralph Arnold said, “The Lethbridge Trail Alliance is excited to see the City of Lethbridge move forward with the sanctioning of a single-track trail network within the river valley. The LTA looks forward to partnering with the City to ensure the network works for as many people as possible while maintaining environmental and cultural conservation.”
Administrative staff with the City of Lethbridge have been directed to report back to council by the end of the third quarter in 2023 on the progress of implementing the trail network, which will include a map and signage.
Staff will also conduct historical and ecological assessments on the west side of the coulees to determine if trails should be developed there, as well as a feasibility study of a trail connection through “Battleship Island,” a river edge along the west end of the Lethbridge Country Clubs.
The allocated budget for the Sanctioned River Valley Trail Network is $5 million, which is funded through the city’s 2022-31 Capital Improvement Plan.
READ MORE: Lethbridge News Now
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