Organizers of the Pathway to the Park expect that work on the project will be well underway this time one year from now.
Efforts to drive forward the proposed paved right-of-way, non-motorized trail system from Hinton to the east gates of Jasper National Park have been ongoing for more than two years already.
“That was pretty much a year and a half of wandering around in the wilderness, more or less,” said Pathway to the Park board member Mike Meagher.
“I did a lot of work. I got a lot of good map tools. Between looking at maps and trying to get around property with private ownership and all that kind of stuff, [it] was quite a bit of work.”
The green light finally came after the board requested $100,000 in funding during a presentation made to Hinton Town Council on October 3. The town previously offered $50,000 in funding for project planning and design last year.
Meagher noted that West Fraser has been supportive as well. Part of the proposed trail goes through the old Camp One area, which is part of the company’s forest management area.
The work is being broken down into two phases, starting with a 23-kilometre section from Hinton all the way to the Wildhorse Lake Provincial Recreation Area.
“We’re going through Kinky Lake, and then the trail is going to end just on the other side of Wildhorse Lake area for now as phase one,” Meagher said.
“The state that we’re at right now, we finally have the trail alignment that we’ve settled on that doesn’t interfere with landowners and is going to give us a pretty nice aesthetic trail going all the way to Wildhorse.”
The aesthetics include scenic rest stops with viewpoints and picnic areas along the way. Interpretive signage will also be installed to complement the recreationally enriching aspect of the project.
The committee has received the official survey sketches and lined up all the technical and legal details that needed to get official approval, all of which has been submitted to the Alberta government.
“Right now, it’s just kind of a bit of a waiting game for us until we get stuff coming back from them,” Meagher said.
He expected that government approvals and further fundraising will continue over the coming months.
Planning is a complex process, he said, and the committee has hired a consultant to help facilitate the approval application. They have also hired someone to get the project ready for the start of construction.
The Pathway to the Park Committee has had discussions with Alberta Forestry and Parks, which has helped them make some headway, though there is still much work to be done.
“Nothing’s finalized yet,” Meagher said. “The thing that we finalized is where we want the trail to go. We’ve finalized putting the request for approval into everyone. There’s a lot of stakeholders in this whole thing. This is just a kind of a waiting game for us right now.”
Phase two focuses on the remaining seven-kilometre section from Wildhorse Lake Provincial Recreation Area to the park gates.
By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Nov 02, 2023 at 06:00