LETHBRIDGE COUNTY - A proposed regional pathway linking Lethbridge and Coaldale is starting to gain some momentum.
The estimated $4-million project will stretch 14 kilometers from Henderson Lake to the Birds of Prey Centre (shown above), featuring a storyboard as an agriculture interpretation component.
At Thursday's (May 4) County Council meeting, Deputy Reeve Henry Doeve said the Link Pathway Society is now registered, and will begin looking for grant funding right away.
"It's $2.5-million to build the trail, $500,000 to cross the Jail Road and then the engineering and some amenities will make up the other million... We have in excess of $300,000 of in-kind support identified to date... Corporations have already come forward with donations for park benches and for different amenities," Doeve told Lethbridge News Now.
Four jurisdictions, including the County, City of Lethbride, Town of Coaldale and Saint Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID), have shown unanimous support for the project. Other private owners and corporations located along the cycling and pedestrian path have also indicated their interest.
The SMRID holds a majority of the proposed right-of-way, and has agreed to lease the south Coaldale lateral section to the Link Pathway Society for one-dollar, making construction very feasible cost-wise, Doeve noted. The SMRID is not in a position to manage that portion of the pathway since it doesn't have a parks and recreation department.
Council agreed that it will begin conversations to possibly enter an agreement with the society for one-dollar per year to maintain the pathway. Preliminary estimates from Lethbridge County administration suggest that maintenance could total between $20,000 and $30,000 annually.
The County's municipal insurer, Jubilee Insurance, was also consulted to clarify any liability issues.
"It's no different than sidewalks in cities, towns, hamlets and villages. It's the same liability. It's just a general liability insurance, and it needs to rest with someone. But it's not a huge issue," Doeve explained.
The insurance company noted that it covers hundreds of kilometers of paths and trails across Alberta, and has only seen two or three minor claims to-date.
Further information states that each land owner that has the path cross their property will need to be added as an "additional named insurer" under the general liability policy. By doing so, the County indicates that they are taking responsibility for the liability regardless of whose land it's on, providing equal protection for the County and land owners.
Doeve says the project has been broken down into five manageable phases. Phase one is expected to be complete by this September, with trails being integrated along the linear storm retention area west of Coaldale, as part of the Malloy Drain Mitigation Project.
Councillor Morris Zeinstra piped up during Thursday's meeting, adding that he would eventually like to see the path go all the way out to Park Lake.
But at this point, Doeve is excited for the Link Pathway Society to go public in order gain more support, and give residents across the county an opportunity to invest at the very grassroots of the project.
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