Bonnyville will be putting money towards efforts to modernize the Iron Horse Trail.
Town council received a request for funding from the Riverland Recreational Trail Society on Tuesday asking to help make upgrades to the portion of the Iron Horse Trail that passes through Bonnyville.
The RRTS had been successful in their grant application to Trans Canada Trail to complete a 10-year strategic development plan on portions of the trail stretching from Heinsburg to Wasketenau, but the Cold Lake portion to Abilene Junction is not designated as part of the TCT.
They’ve applied through the Alberta Snowmobile Association to fund that portion of the trail, but so far have no response.
“The more time we spent discussing ideas and strategies, the more we realized how vital it is to look at the trail as a whole,” wrote Marvin Bjornstad, RRTS, in a letter to council.
“There are so many great development opportunities being missed including both staging areas in Cold Lake and Bonnyville, Anshaw Historic Site, the Beaver River Trestle, and much more.”
Bonnyville will contribute approximately just under $6700 contingent on the M.D. of Bonnyville and Cold Lake, who were also asked for funds, agreeing to approve the spend throughout their portions of the trail.
If each party dedicates the money, and funding from other sources is found, then the municipalities would get a portion of the money back.
“The north trail, which runs through primarily the M.D., and the Town and the City of Cold Lake, that portion of it wasn’t going to be looked at,” said Mayor Gene Sobolewski on The Morning After.
“So what they said for those three communities that basically have that section of the trail, would we kick in–I think it was $6700–to have the consultant incorporate that part of the trail as part of the planning process. And that’s what we made the motion to yesterday.”
The RRTS recently completed a month-long survey that asked trail users to help determine what needs to be upgraded or otherwise installed along the way to make trips more enjoyable.
The Iron Horse Trail is one of the longest continual trails in Alberta, and is considered a major tourist attraction for the Lakeland, but has gained a reputation for being more on the rustic side, something the RRTS feels is turning potential visitors away.
They’re hoping to include amenities that cater to the needs of all those that travel down Iron Horse, which includes hikers, horseback riders, and off-road motorists.
No word yet on if Cold Lake and the M.D. will contribute funds to the trail.