The Meadowlark Trail is one step closer to coming to fruition, after Rocky View County (RVC) council unanimously approved a development permit application for Phase 3 of the project at the Feb. 23 meeting.
Mar 1, 2021 4:00 PM By: Scott Strasser with Rockview Weekly.
The Meadowlark Trail connecting Beiseker and Irricana is anticipated to be ready for users later this year, according to Meadowlark society chair Jeannette Richter. The Meadowlark Trail is one step closer to coming to fruition, after Rocky View County (RVC) council unanimously approved a development permit application for Phase 3 of the project at the Feb. 23 meeting.
Jeannette Richter, the chair of the Meadowlark Society, said the group was excited to see RVC council's continued support of the initiative.
“It’s such a relief to have this part of it over with,” she said after the meeting. “Now, we’re really looking forward to working and building the trail.”
The Meadowlark Trail is a proposed pedestrian and cycling path that will connect the communities of Beiseker and Irricana. The 7.5-kilometre, non-motorized trail will run alongside a decommissioned Canadian Pacific Railway line, which was donated to Alberta TrailNet in 2005.
“The gravel trail has been designed to accommodate non-motorized users, including pedestrians and cyclists,” said Jacqueline Targett, with RVC’s planning and development services, during the Feb. 23 staff presentation to council. “It’s not proposing to permit motorized use of any kind, or equestrian riders at this time.”
The project has been in the works for three years. Originally slated to be completed in 2020, Richter said the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the County’s approval of the Meadowlark Society’s most recent development permit.
Prior work included the installation of two pedestrian bridges over Crossfield Creek and the Rosebud River, as well as the replacement of a culvert across a drainage ditch near Beiseker. According to Ricther, the work was completed in November 2019.
Now that the development permit for the rest of the project has been approved, Richter said bid tenders will be put out regarding the construction of the actual trail, which involves installing fencing and laying down the pulverized-gravel surface.
Construction of the path is anticipated to wrap up later this summer, according to Richter.
“We have to do some landscaping – planting trees and so on, to provide privacy to the adjacent landowners who had concerns about that,” she said. “We’ll be putting up fences to make sure the trail is only open to walkers and cyclists and we’ll be securing the trail before we open it.”
In the future, Richter said the society also intends to put up additional amenities, such as benches and informational kiosks at the trailheads, to educate trail-users about the project, what wildlife they will likely encounter and the local history of the region.
Area residents have mostly been in support of the project. According to Targett’s presentation at the Feb. 23 council meeting, RVC received 26 letters in support of the Meadowlark Trail from nearby landowners and one anonymous letter in opposition.
Richter said public consultation has been an important part of the Meadowlark Society’s work since first proposing the project.
“We’ve really tried to build bridges and accommodate adjacent landowners for the past three years,” she said. “The trail is going to be beautiful for people to walk on. It will not be an annoyance to adjacent landowners.”
Considering the stay-at-home directives and the gathering and economic restrictions that have been in place for much of the pandemic, Richter said she hopes Irricana and Beiseker residents will embrace the new multi-use pathway, once it’s completed.
“I’m really looking forward to having this open for people in Beiseker, Irricana and our area who have been locked down during COVID,” she said. “Now, this is going to be something they’ll be able to do. It won’t cost anything, it’s really close by and they can go out there to enjoy the beautiful prairie.
“If you come in the spring, you can hear the meadowlarks really singing their hearts out.”