Two local politicians east of Calgary are considering the feasibility of connecting their communities via an extended cycling/pedestrian pathway.
While a key stakeholder argues it's not feasible, Chestermere Mayor Jeff Colvin said there would be many benefits to the development of a cycling path between the lakeside city and the nearby hamlet of Langdon in east Rocky View County. The two communities are roughly 15 kilometres apart, and many residents already visit the neighbouring community for work, school, shopping, or recreational services.
“It just seems to be an opportunity for synergy,” Colvin said. “Langdon, I’m not sure if you’d call it our sister city or town, but it’s very close.”
Colvin noted there is already an existing trail between Chestermere and Calgary in the form of a pathway that runs adjacent to Western Irrigation District's (WID) irrigation canal. The 20-kilometre pathway winds its way from the southwest corner of Chestermere Lake all the way to central Calgary.
He said the most logical way to link Chestermere to the Rocky View County hamlet would be to simply extend WID's existing trail further east toward Langdon and Dalemead. A benefit of that solution, he added, is that the trail would not put users at risk of collisions with vehicles.
“It’s so nice to not put it beside a road,” he said. “To cut trail through a farmers field, that’s probably not usually done. We’re really fortunate the WID canal is there and does exactly that.
“I think it’s an incredible idea.”
However, when reached for comment, WID representatives claimed the idea of extending its pathway east toward Langdon is not feasible.
"It comes down to safety and liability," read an emailed statement from Sean Mascaluk, the general manager for WID.
"The WID’s canal banks are private property, and the canals must continue to function for irrigation."
At the moment, Colvin acknowledges that's all the venture is – an idea. He said it's all unconfirmed how much a trail would cost, when it would be constructed, and other such details. However, he said there is plenty of evidence for why it should be feasible.
Inter-municipal cycling trails have recently started to catch on throughout Alberta. The 22-kilometre Legacy Trail connecting Banff and Canmore is a highly popular amenity, while the three-kilometre Friendship Trail has similarly brought people between the neighbouring towns of Turner Valley and Black Diamond together.
On the west side of the county, the Rotary Club of Cochrane and other involved community organizations are fundraising to build a trail that connects Calgary and Cochrane. And Airdrie City council approved funding for a feasibility study last year to investigate whether or not a trail could be built from Airdrie to Calgary.
Colvin believes Langdon and Chestermere could one day share a similar amenity. He mentioned he's already brought up the idea with Rocky View County's Division 7 (Langdon) councillor Al Schule to get the ball rolling.
Colvin noted Chestermere council has also authorized staff to continue those inter-municipal discussions and investigate possible grant opportunities that could help fund the project.
“We don’t expect it to be something that can’t be accomplished,” he said.
Schule confirmed he's heard about the idea from Colvin and another Chestermere City councillor. He agreed a recreational trail would be a beneficial amenity for both Chestermere and Langdon residents.
“They’re the ones who brought it up and I’m waiting for them to lead the way or at least let me know what type of help they require,” he said. “I’ll try to give them a call in the next few days to find out where they’re at and what support they need from me.”