Monday , 2 August 2021

City looking to re-establish African Lake Trail for ATV riders

Cold Lake city council has directed staff to look at re-establishing parts of African Lake Trail for ATV riders.

The city has expressed interest in taking over the 6.4-kilometre trail, meant for hiking and mountain biking, which currently has portions within the M.D. of Bonnyville and some private lands.

Mayor Craig Copeland said on The Morning After that part of the reasoning of using this trail is to service riders in the area.

“The motorbikes, the quads, side by sides, they are getting pinched out the way [as] the city is growing and so why not recognize them? They’re not going away, and [we can] provide that service. Again, complementing recreation in the area,” said Copeland.

“We know it’s happening already. So we want to work pursue it and work for Alberta Environment and Parks, and maybe be a trail steward and maybe we can even hand it off to a club [later on],” he said.

The African Lake Bike Trail was established by the Tri Town Trail Society in 1990, but has been without a steward since 1996 when that society dissolved.

When originally developed, the majority of the trail was within the M.D. of Bonnyville. However, with the City’s recent annexation, roughly half of the trail now falls within the city’s jurisdiction.

A diagram from city documents. The blue line is the existing trail boundary. The red line is the proposed new boundary, and the green line is the existing trail boundary. Image credit: City of Cold Lake.

City council notes said a joint inspection showed the trail had been substantially damaged by Off-Highway Vehicles and would be costly to restore and maintain in an acceptable condition for use as a walking or cycling trail. It was also determined that portions of the trail have shifted from its original route over time, and sections now encroach onto private properties.

The estimated total length of trail that would need to be realigned is 1,100 metres with the cost to survey, clear and grade these sections of trail would be roughly $30,000.

The next steps would be to secure a disposition with Alberta Environment and Parks for the encroachment on private lands and seek formal consent from the M.D of Bonnyville.

“We wanted to make sure that we aren’t on private property if the City of Cold Lake is going to formally maintain take over the maintenance thereof. We are presenting to council this evening to make sure we are on-side with what council’s expectations are,” said chief administrative officer Kevin Nagoya during the Feb. 16 corporate priorities meeting.

“There is going to be costs associated with having to relocate the trail. There might be some rehab that is done just to make sure that we don’t have people going onto the private properties on purpose…and we will not whether there’s any exposures until we have that conversation with AEP. Even from AEP, if there is, I’ll call it wetlands issues, those are going to create problems as well. And we don’t have an answer to that yet until we engage the environmental consultant.”

Nagoya said if there was a wetland in that area, then the City would not be able to go into there and do the work.

Councillor Kirk Soroka expressed support for the idea as a way to take the off-highway vehicle traffic away from the Highway 28 area.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.